Appalled and disgusted at the allegations of sexual assault and grooming of a child leveled against the Minister of Local Government, the Amerindian People’s Association today called on President Irfaan Ali to ensure that an independent investigation is conducted into the serious allegations against Minister Nigel Dharamlall.
The APA said the government is duty-bound to protect all children of Guyana and it would be a slap in the face of that duty if an impartial probe is not done.
In commending the school girl for her bravery in making the allegations known, the APA said it stands ready to provide support to ensure she processes and heals from the most traumatic experience of her young life.
“We wish to state that the issue of alleged sexual abuse of indigenous women and girls by persons in positions of power is not a new one. Also, the lengths alleged perpetrators go to not have these horrific stories meet the stage of investigations is also known. Attention must be paid to why stories are heard, and become somewhat public, then are quickly negated by the alleged victim, leaving no space for investigations to take shape. This is the time for attention to be given to similar reports involving both boys and girls, as that allegedly carried out on the child by Minister Dharamlall”, the APA said.
The APA is not pleased that the President failed to act sooner on the allegations, and allowed the Minister to request leave rather than to act earlier.
The APA reminded President Ali that Guyana is a signatory to the Convention on the Rights of the Child and that as President of Guyana, his actions should be fashioned to protect the victim as a citizen of this country and who is a school-aged child, and not his Minister.
The APA has also issued a call on Minister of Amerindian Affairs Pauline Sukhai to condemn the alleged behaviour of her Cabinet colleague.
The association urged Sukhai to step up and speak out for the rights of the abused indigenous child, and advocate for criminal proceedings to be filed against Minister Dharamlall.
The APA also believes the National Toshaos Council needs to condemn the allegations against Minister Dharamlall and advocate for an independent probe.
“In addition to the Convention on the Rights of the Child, Guyana is also signatory to Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) and the United Nations has passed a resolution for the General Recommendation 39, which speaks to the rights of Indigenous women and girls, to be implemented. That call was reiterated at the recently concluded United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues (UNPFII. We remind both Minister Sukhai and the NTC that they were present and participated at that meeting”, the APA statement noted.
The body also reminded members of the public that it is against the law to name or identify a victim of sexual abuse.