Peruvian Ambassador removed and suspended following Newshub Nation investigation

Peru's Ambassador has been removed and suspended after allegations of abuse and harassment Newshub Nation raised in March.

Former Ambassador Javier Prado was recalled to Peru in September after his country's Foreign Ministry found him "directly responsible" for acts of labour abuse.

It's been a long time coming for Sandra, one of Prado's victims. Two years have passed since she left the embassy.

"It took me two years, two years to rebuild, to build again my confidence and my self esteem," she told Newshub Nation. 

Newshub Nation first spoke to her in March. Today, Sandra says the emotion is no less painful.

"You don't forget these things… sometimes I struggle to trust people, especially in my work life."

But finally a cloud is lifting, with the allegations against Prado by multiple former workers found to be true.

Sandra and Diana Barrata both worked for Prado; Sandra as his personal assistant, while Diana was the former Ambassador's maid. Both made complaints of abuse and harassment - overworked, underpaid and bullied by Maria Teresa - the Ambassador's wife.

"The words that they said to me and to Diana, we'll never get out of our minds,'' says Sandra.

Diana alleged she was forced to work 80 to 90 hours a week while only being paid for 40 and was rarely allowed to leave the residence. She says she still hasn't been paid for around 1000 hours of work. When she complained, she said she was fired and her belongings piled outside the front door.

In the wake of Newshub Nation telling Diana and Sandra's story, Peru's Foreign Ministry launched an investigation. They found Prado "committed serious acts of negligence" including:

  • that he failed to prevent harassment
  • restricted Diana's free time and movement
  • "humiliated" her when she picked up her belongings

 The investigation concluded Prado was "directly responsible for acts of labour abuse."

Prado was recalled to Peru in September where he appealed against the charges on a number of technical grounds. His appeal was rejected by Peru's Foreign Ministry, which suspended him for 45 days.

But it isn't enough for his victims, who may never see the money they say they're owed. Peru's Foreign Ministry didn't consider any claims for unpaid wages.

"I don't think this is justice at all," says Sandra.

New Zealand authorities say they can do nothing. Prado was protected by diplomatic immunity and police, MFAT and the Ministry of Business Innovation and Employment all say it falls outside New Zealand law.

"The question is, who is going to pay us for the extra work that we did? And who is going to look after all the damage done physically or mentally?" Sandra asks.  

 It's a bittersweet moment for the complainants. Prado's time in New Zealand is over but for his victims like Sandra, the ordeal goes on.

"We are scarred, and we are scarred forever. We just tried to look at the future with bright eyes and a positive mind. That's it."

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Peruvian Ambassador removed and suspended following Newshub Nation investigation