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DPP advises police to drop rape case against Dharamlall; ChildLink denies breaching girl’s confidentiality, contributing to her withdrawal

Last Updated on Tuesday, 4 July 2023, 17:36 by Denis Chabrol

Mr Nigel Dharamlall

The Guyana Police Force (GPF) on Tuesday indicated it had halted all investigations into a 16-year old girl’s allegation that Local Government Minister Nigel Dharamlall raped her at his residence last December.

According to the law enforcement agency, that decision was based on advice by the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) after the girl last week  gave the DPP a statement, a copy of which was delivered by her mother to police, that she wanted no further action in the matter.

“The DPP also proffered her advice based on the fact that the virtual complainant’s statement was taken by a forensic interviewer in the presence of a parent, a Child Care officer and a Police officer and that such statement was free and voluntary.

In light of the above, the Director of Public Prosecution concluded that in the absence of the victim’s complaint, there is no legal provision for the Police to proceed with the matter,” the police force said.

Police said earlier Tuesday, the case file in relation to the allegation of rape made against Minister Nigel Dharamlall was sent to the DPP’s Chambers based on advise for further investigations to be conducted.

Consequently, the DPP returned the file this (Tuesday) afternoon containing her legal opinion.

“In her advice, the DPP disclosed that consideration was given to the fact that the complainant gave a further statement to investigators that she wishes to withdraw her complaint against Minister Dharamlall and that her decision was not influenced by anyone and that same was in her best interest.

Sources said the non-governmental organisation, Blossom Inc; – a Child Advocacy Centre (CAC) that plays a key role in investigating alleged sexual offences along with police and the Child Care and Protection Agency (CPA) of the Ministry of Human Services and Social Security- was facilitating the process from the inception. However, when Blossom reportedly declined for the girl to be interviewed yet again because of concerns for her mental well-being, police whisked her off to ChildLink.

ChildLink, the other CAC, said the girl issued a statement on June 30, 2023 saying she wanted “no further action.” “Shortly into the interview the child brought to the attention of the CAC staff that
she had already given a statement on the said morning of no further action. The CAC team immediately wrapped up the interview and did not proceed with any questions. No further statements were taken,” ChildLink said.

ChildLink said that the interview was conducted on that day when the the CPA and Police requested the Georgetown-based CAC to conduct a forensic interview to complete the investigation. They raised concerns on the apparent breaches of protocols.

In the wake of the police force’s finger-pointing that a non-governmental organisation had leaked information, ChildLink denied ever doing so. “The accusation of leakages in this current case is troubling, ChildLinK maintains that it has acted professionally in all of its involvement in this case,” the organisation said in a statement at the weekend.

ChildLink stressed that the various disclosures that have been made regarding that young woman’s posture and position on that matter are “regrettable and none can be attributed to ChildLinK including her last statements.”

That CAC also denied playing any part in the girl deciding to withdraw from the investigation. “We wish to categorically distance ChildLinK from any actual or perceived involvement in any alleged harassment, fatigue or frustration of this young woman’s effort at justice,” the entity said.

The Guyana Human Rights Association (GHRA) at the weekend called for Mr Dharamlall to be charged in the public interest and for the case to go ahead with the State leading evidence in the absence of the girl. The DPP Chambers Prosecutors’ Code also provides for the withdrawal of a complaint, taking into consideration the victim’s age and health.

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July 2023