Dharamlall’s rape accuser refused access to lawyer but Child Care officer unaware

Last Updated on Wednesday, 21 June 2023, 16:24 by Denis Chabrol

The 16-year old girl, who has accused Local Government Minister Nigel Dharamlall of raping her, has been denied access to a private lawyer who plans to challenge that decision in the High Court.

“Nothing is stopping the representatives of the State from being there to protect the interest of the State but nothing in law bars her from having her own independent lawyer and she has reached out to the investigators  and she has said clearly who she wants to come and to advise her and we have not been able to do so,” Attorney-at-Law Dexter Todd told Demerara Waves Online News.

Mr Dharamlall has not been charged with any sexual offence and he has, through Attorney-at-Law Nigel Hughes, denied all accusations.

Sources said authorities had also taken away a tablet (communication device) from the teenager.

Assistant Director of the Ministry of Human Services and Social Security’s Child Care and Protection Agency,  Ms Levine Gouveia told Demerara Waves Online News that, “I’m not aware of that”. She also said “when you’re in State care, there are certain procedures and the State represents her.” She referred further enquiries to the ministry’s Permanent Secretary.

A child care and protection expert, when asked on condition of anonymity whether the girl could  consult a private lawyer of her choice, remarked, “I don’t see why she can’t” and also the child’s mother could request a lawyer for the child,” the expert said.

Mr Todd, who is overseas, said one of the junior lawyers in his law firm, was not allowed to speak with the accuser on all three occasions on Wednesday. He was adamant that the girl could seek legal advice from a lawyer of her choice as distinct from being a member of the State’s prosecutorial  team.

Mr Todd said if the Child Care and Protection Agency continued to block access to a lawyer of her choice, he would go to the High Court because as far his research showed there was nothing in the law that prevented him from offering advice. “I don’t know of any law that prevents her from having an independent lawyer and if it continues by later this (Wednesday) afternoon or tomorrow, that we are still unable to have access to her, then I am going to proceed to the High Court because this is not something that I am familiar with,” he said.

Mr Todd said lawyers were not there to tell persons in such difficult circumstances what to say but to explain their rights and make them comfortable about the law.

Meanwhile, sources on Wednesday said when the teenager was taken to Mr Dharamlall’s residence where she was allegedly raped by him, the room smelled of fresh paint.

Head of the Guyana Police Force’s Criminal Investigations Department, Assistant Commissioner Wendell Blanhum on Wednesday said investigators had not sought advice from the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP). Since arresting the accused on a charge of rape and releasing him on GYD$1 million station bail, police had said that several other persons had to be questioned.

At his request of President Irfaan Ali, Mr Dharamlall has proceeded on indefinite leave.