Jun 23, 2023 News
…demand justice as DPP reviews rape probe file
Kaieteur News – The Amerindian People’s Association (APA) on Thursday joined Red Thread Women in protest action demanding justice for the victim of alleged rape and sodomy at the hands of Local Government Minister, Nigel Dharamlall.
Dharamlall has since denied the allegations by the school girl. Members of the APA protested in front of the Arthur Chung Conference Center (ACC) where the second day of Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) hearing was being held. Some held placards with the words, “Justice must be served” while other placards had the phrase “Don’t let your loyalty prevent you from speaking out and demanding justice for our women and girls”. Protestors also called for a fair investigation into the rape matter against the government minister.
For its part, the People’s National Congress Reform (PNCR) at a news conference on Thursday said since multiple reports on the matter are readily available to President Irfaan Ali, he must act immediately with the urgency this matter demands. “The minister must be removed from public office immediately. Minister Dharamlall is not a public servant, he was not appointed in accordance with the Public Service Commission. He is a political appointee and not a public servant. Consequently, the rules of the public service are not applicable to Mr. Dharamlall and therefore he cannot be sent on administrative leave pending the investigation and possible charges into the serious and odious allegations of rape and sodomy,” the party said in a statement. It added: “By virtue of these allegations, the Minister is not fit for public office in any capacity and must immediately resign or be removed from government and Parliament.
Most notably, the purported settlement agreement in the form of a quasi-nondisclosure agreement (NDA) should be the subject of an investigation. Specifically, all involved should be investigated for the possible obstruction of justice. Importantly, the Office of Professional Responsibility should immediately commence an investigation into the actions of the Regional Commander, Mr. Khemraj Shivbaran.”
According to the PNCR , it has been brought to the attention of the Opposition that there are several procedural breaches into this investigation. “Firstly, we wish to highlight that the Acting Head of Child Care and Protection Agency (CPA), Tionna October, a consummate professional with over ten (10) years of experience working under the stewardship of Ann Green, the former Head of the Child Care and Protection Agency has been sidelined. Levine Gouveia with less than two (2) years of experience has been identified to handle this sensitive matter. This is unacceptable. We have several disturbing reports thus far, which suggest that the victim is denied her constitutional right to legal representation.”
Additionally, the party said it has received reports that on a visit to the alleged crime scene the accused was present – this fly in the face of the rule of law and the protection of the victim. It is unacceptable and must be condemned. “All of these issues must be dealt with immediately, to ensure justice and the adherence to the Rule of Law. The Opposition demands that the investigation be fair and impartial in every sense and be free from any political influence, interference, directive, and be undertaken in keeping with the law. The Opposition will continue to advocate strongly for the rights of women and children. We will continue to be an unrelenting advocate for the protection of our indigenous sisters. We owe it to our Indigenous sisters to promote and protect their rights. This case will be the litmus test as to whether the elites in our society are above the law. We must all remain steadfast in our commitment to ensure that no one is above the law and justice is the victor in this process of dealing with the alleged heinous crime that was committed by a sitting Minister and Member of Parliament.
We trust that Justice will prevail.”
Meanwhile, the file on rape allegations against the minister is presently being reviewed by the Director of Public Prosecution, Shalimar Ali Hack, SC. Crime Chief, Wendell Blanhum had told Kaieteur News on Wednesday that the file contains the official report, documentary evidence along with all statements taken during a police investigation. Once the DPP is finished reviewing the file it is returned to investigators with legal advice on how to proceed with the matter. DPP’s advice could be that the minister must be charged with rape or it can recommend that police conduct more investigations.
In the meantime, the minister is out of police custody on a $1M bail. He is also on administrative leave and according to Vice-President, Bharrat Jadeo during a press conference on Thursday he has not participated in any party meetings since the allegations were made. Jagdeo had said too that if the rape allegations leveled against the minister are true, he would have to face the consequences. His exact words during an interview with social media personality, Mikhail Rodrigues popularly known as ‘Guyana Critics’ was, “We don’t wanna be premature by saying anyone is guilty, but can we answer for every single individual in the party, or in the government? The party cannot basically give (an answer), like put our neck on a block for anyone, that is why a fair independent investigation is being done now.”
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