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Police must conduct “unbiased” investigation into Dharamlall’s rape allegation- Women Lawyers Association

Last Updated on Wednesday, 21 June 2023, 6:44 by Denis Chabrol

The Guyana Association of Women Lawyers (GAWL) on Wednesday urged the Guyana Police Force to conduct an “unbiased” investigation into the rape allegation that has been levelled against Local Government Minister Nigel Dharamlall by a 16-year old girl.

“We call on the Guyana Police Force and all the relevant authorities to conduct a thorough and unbiased investigation whilst upholding their primary objective, to serve and protect,” that organisation said in a statement.

The opposition A Partnership for National Unity+Alliance For Change (APNU+AFC) is on record as questioning the independence and professionalism of the police force under the leadership of  Police Commissioner Clifton Hicken.

The girl, who has been taken into protective custody by the State, has been assisting investigators.

GAWL urged that the rule of law be upheld for a full and fair investigation into these allegations to protect the interest of all parties.

Noting that ministers of government are appointed by the people, for the people and should at all times serve them, GAWL said they should not escape action by the justice system. “Those who wield this power are not above the law,” the association said.

That association also called on the public not to peddle speculation and misinformation that could pervert the course of justice and result in further damage to the Complainant. “This includes the circulation of photographs and images of the Complainant,” the organisation added,

Meanwhile, Guyana’s constitutional Women and Gender Equality Commission (WGEC) said it supported the action taken by the government to have the latest incident involving Minister Nigel Dharamlall Minister of Local Government and Rural Development thoroughly investigated.

That rights commission said the lawmakers could not be lawbreakers. “There is an urgent need for the elimination of the culture that permits bad behavior. We must insist that those who make the laws are mandated to uphold them at all times.  Anyone who breaks the law must bear the consequences of their action,” said that body which is chaired by veteran Guyanese politician and women’s rights activist, Indra Chandarpal.

The Citizenship Initiative (TCI) political party criticised government for failing to take action before public pressure. That small political party said Mr. Dharamlall should have been removed from office a long time ago. “TCI is also disappointed that the government didn’t act decisively in removing Dharamlall from public office, especially given his track record of vulgar utterances at our highest forum, Parliament, and other similar accusations of vulgar misconduct circulating in social media,” that party said.

TCI said regardless of the outcome of the case, Mr Dharamlall should not resume ministerial duties.  Mr Dharamlall  asked to be sent on leave pending the outcome of the investigation, even as the  Child Care and Protection Agency was preparing to lodge a complaint with police against Mr Dharamlall.

He was subsequently arrested and placed on GY$1 million station bail.

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June 2023