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Senior Counsel Roysdale Forde, in passionate rebuke of the decision to have the case brought against Mr. Nigel Dharamlall, former minister of Local Government and Regional Development dropped, said it is evidence the system has failed. Dharamlall is accused of raping, sodomising and forcing a minor to have oral sex with him, reportedly sometime last December.
The 16-year-old, from the indigenous community, participated in an Indigenous pageant last year and was sponsored by Dharamlall’s ministry.
The Guyana Police Force on Tuesday announced that based on legal advice by Mrs. Shalimar Ali-Hack S.C, Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) they will no longer proceed with the case. According to the police, “[i]n her advice, the DPP disclosed that consideration was given to the fact that the complainant gave a further statement to investigators that she wished to withdraw her complaint against Minister Dharamlall and that her decision was not influenced by anyone and that same was in her best interest.”
However, Forde is not accepting the decision, which he told Village Voice News is further evidence the system has failed the weak and vulnerable. According to the senior counsel, whilst the accused lawyer Nigel Hughes and Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs Anil Nandlall, S.C asked that we trust the system, Guyanese should not lose sight of a couple of factors:
“1. Attorney-at-law Nigel Hughes himself has cases where the system has failed his clients. Immediately called to mind are the cases of Orin Boston and Detective Sergeant Orin Bascom who my learned colleague is representing;
- The minor was bold, strong and brave but the country was weak and insufficient to support her to have her day in court.”
According to Forde, who shadows Nandlall in the National Assembly, the state prematurely terminated the case, and whilst the government has gotten what they want, the government remains complicit in the sexual assault of a minor.
Responding to the comment by President Irfaan Ali that the system has worked, Forde countered by stating the state has allowed the process to work to its advantage. Going further, the member of parliament said he doesn’t believe the state has the maturity to investigate one of its own and can dispassionately weigh the circumstances to ensure justice, but set out to have Dharamlall walk free.
Forde said as an officer of the court, he holds to the principle of the presumption of innocence until found guilty, but the nation needs to address its mind as to why Dharamlall , with the support of the state, did not want to have his day in court. The person who suffered in the entire affair is the minor, said the senior counsel.
The collapse of the system has benefitted Dharamlall and his counsel, but the country remains devastated, Forde said, pointing out that Guyana is a botched state. “Where else in the world can you conceive a child will be taken into custody and the child’s mental and psychological well being ignored as was evident in the claim of the child that she was exhausted?” he questioned
Hinting there may have been collusion on the part of the state that has failed the child, Forde told this publication, it is difficult to ask citizens to trust a system when based on reports in section of the media, while Dharamlall was on bail he was painting over his home, in an apparent attempt to botch the investigation. These early indications, he said, show we cannot trust the system.
Forde said while he is not surprised, but extremely disturbed with the DPP and Police decision, he is also advising the family to bring private criminal and civil charges against Dharamlall.
Asked to comment on President Irfaan Ali’s public statement that Dharamlall has offered his resignation as a minister and member of parliament and he has accepted same, the senior counsel said this is further evidence the president is not his own man, politically inept and weak, and continues to prove his unfitness for the offices he presently holds. “President Ali should have fired Mr. Dharamlall, not wait for Mr. Dharamlall to offer his resignations and then says he accepts them.”
As President, Ali is Head of Government, Head of State, and Commander in Chief, among other principal portfolios at local and regional levels.
In closing the conversation with this publication, Forde said he would like to assure Guyanese what the People’s Progressive Party (PPP) government is doing in not normal ,and whist the PPP deserves us losing faith and confidence in them, we must not lose faith and confidence in ourselves and country to remove the PPP from office, because the party continues to prove its unfitness to govern. “The PPP has brought shame on our beloved country. No other country, headed by a government that cares about the law, system and people, could have this happen.”
According to Forde, the matter is not over and Guyanese must continue to call for justice to be served.