Last Updated on Monday, 19 June 2023, 9:39 by Denis Chabrol
Local Government Minister Nigel Dharamlall, through the law firm, Hughes Fields & Stoby, has denied sexual assault allegations that have been swirling in Social Media since last week, Attorney-at-Law Nigel Hughes said on Monday.
Mr Hughes, on behalf of his client, denied the allegations and stayed clear of describing the allegations as “sexual” in nature.
“All the allegations are denied,” the prominent Guyanese criminal and civil lawyer said. Sources said the girl restated her detailed account of her alleged interactions and alleged encounter with the Minister, despite the fact that she had on a second occasion dissociated herself from the content that had been initially posted on Social Media.
Mr Hughes said Mr. Dharamlall has retained the services of a firm of Attorneys at Law to represent him and protect his interests.
Now that the allegations of misconduct are in the hands of the Guyana Police Force and the Ministry of Human Services’ Child Care and Protection Agency (CCPA), the lawyer said his client would cooperate with investigators. “Mr. Dharamlall remains willing and disposed to assist in a full investigation of the matter,” Mr Hughes added.
Appealing for an end to speculation, the lawyer said no further statements will be issued by or on behalf of Mr. Dharamlall.
“In the interest of a fair investigation and the necessity to protect the interests of all parties concerned, we urge that speculation, wild accusations, pre mature judgments and unsupported conclusions be avoided,” he said.
The CCPA lodged a police complaint, triggering a criminal probe by police and a well-known child advocacy non-governmental organisation has since conducted a video-recorded interview with the alleged victim who remains in protective care of the State in keeping with the law.
Mr Hughes has often come in for scathing criticism from Mr Dharamlall’s People’s Progressive Party (PPP) for his view on what had constituted a parliamentary majority for the passage of the 2018 no-confidence motion. He has also repeatedly accused the incumbent administration of discrimination against Afro-Guyanese, charges that the party and government have repeatedly denied.
President Irfaan Ali on Sunday said he approved Mr Dharamlall’s request to be sent on leave to allow for an investigation into the allegations of sexual misconduct, including grooming, rape and sodomy.
Meanwhile, opposition Shadow Home Affairs Minister Geeta Chandan-Edmond, welcomed the fact that Mr Dharamlall was now on leave and she hoped that justice would prevail. “While this must be seen as an important step forward , like all Guyanese we trust that this will result in a full, fair, unbiased and impartial investigation , and that there will be compliance with the rule of law,” said Ms Chandan-Edmond, a former magistrate and former General Secretary of the opposition People’s National Congress Reform.
Red Thread, a women and children’s rights advocacy organisation, heaped scorn on the disrespect for the girl and her family due to the publishing of the information, including graphic details, on Social Media and the politicisation of the alleged incident.
“It is not easy for anyone, let alone a young girl to speak out against such atrocities meted out to them. What should have been an opportunity to do what is right for this young woman has turned into a disaster. Even the politicians are using this young woman’s situation for political mileage. This is not having the best interest of this child at heart. This is selfishness. This is exploitation at its worst. Shame and disgrace!,” Red Thread said in a statement.