Child Care & Protection Agency says rape complainant never denied private lawyer; receiving counselling

Last Updated on Tuesday, 27 June 2023, 7:04 by Denis Chabrol

The Childcare and Protection Agency (CPA) on Monday denied that the 16-year old girl, who has complained that Local Government Minister Nigel Dharamlall allegedly raped her, was prevented from having a private lawyer.

“At no time was the child denied additional or private legal representation,” the agency said days after Attorney-at-Law Dexter Todd said publicly that the CPA had prevented counsel from his law firm from interacting with the child. He had threatened to take the matter to the High Court.

The CPA added that the agency would be legally represented by the Solicitor General of Guyana while the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) Chambers would provide representation for the child in the matter.

The agency said it was following Standard Operating Procedures “throughout the process on this matter” and in keeping with the Childcare &
Protection Agency Act 46:07, Protection of Children Act 46:06 and the Caribbean Court of Justice-recognized Revised Model Guidelines for Sexual Offence Cases in the Caribbean Region.

The DPP was yet to advise police whether Mr Dharamlall should be charged and the nature of the charge based on the police investigations and the Forensic Interview Report. That interview, the agency said, was conducted based on the Child Advocacy Protocol with which the Guyana Police Force and the focal non-governmental organisations, Child Link and Blossom Inc,  are fully familiar. Those NGOs are responsible for conducting such interviews for the CPA.

Meanwhile, the agency assured that the teenaged complainant was receiving all the necessary support. “The child remains in protective care of CPA and is currently being provided with counselling and all other relevant support by the CPA,” the agency added. “We stress that we will provide all support and assistance for the child that is needed.”

The CPA warned that the circulation of the child’s photograph in matters of that nature on social media is unlawful.

Mr Dharamlall, through his lawyer Nigel Hughes, has denied all allegations. He is on GY$1 million station bail and remains on leave.