Opposition and other groups step up protest against Dharamlall; Call for his complete removal from office

Opposition and other groups step up protest against Dharamlall; Call for his complete removal from office

The main opposition APNU+AFC today stepped up its call for the Minister of Local Government Nigel Dharamlall to be completely removed from office, now that he has been arrested on rape and sexual assault allegations.

With other representatives from non-governmental organisations, the APNU+AFC picketed the President’s office this midday, echoing earlier calls for a complete and thorough investigation of the allegations against the Minister by a teenage school girl.

Opposition Leader Aubrey Norton said the matter is a very serious one that is being treated too casually by the Government. He hammered the Guyana Police Force for granting station bail to the Government Minister, hours after his arrest.

“I am very annoyed that preference is being given to Nigel Dharamlall. The nature of this case, he should not have been out of Police custody. He is still in a position where he can influence where this goes. And when you are talking about administrative leave, where in the world do you get administrative leave when there is an allegation of rape? We are going to continue to put pressure on the government because they are biased, and they are not treating this crime as if it is a crime”, Mr. Norton said.

A number of leading women in the APNU were on the picket line today, demanding that the Police treats the matter thoroughly with care for the teenager who has filed the sexual assault report.

Opposition Member and Rights Activist, Simona Broomes said the investigation should also examine the crime of human trafficking since based on the teen’s open letter to the President, there are a number of serious signs of trafficking.

She said “control is one the biggest things that you look for when you are looking at the evidence for human trafficking. You look at control, and somebody in power and somebody in authority, using state funds to lure her. How did she get from there to Georgetown? Under pretense and so I am saying that there are signs there based on the evidence that was put out in the public, and there is sufficient in those statements, for us to call for the Police to also investigate for human trafficking and we have trained personnel at CID to peruse this”.

Longtime PNC Reform member and activist, former Parliamentarian Lurlene Nestor told News Source that there is a great need for children to be protected in Guyana against sexual and other forms of abuse. She said the government needs to take a strong position on the issue, although it is one of its own Ministers that is facing the sexual assault allegations.

“In any other country, the Minister would have resigned immediately, but we have to wait months before the child put the stuff out there and it is shameful. As a citizen of this country, I am ashamed that something like this happened…Where are the the female Ministers, they should be out here protesting, where are the men in Government, they should be out here protesting. It is nasty and it is cruel and it’s a disgrace to this country and it is a stain on the Government and the President must know that”, Nestor said passionately.

Opposition firebrand, Vanessa Kissoon brought a number of supporters from the town of Linden to be part of the protest. She said as a teacher and mother, she found it difficult to read the haunting statement of the sexual assault as written by the teenager. Kissoon said the allegations are troubling, and the President needs to get it right.

Kissoon said “today we are here to express our hurt, our anger and we as mothers and women, we are passionate because we have daughters and we have sons. And that young woman is crying for help and she is crying for justice. And she called on no less a person than the President. Mr. President you are watching, Do the right thing, Do the right thing”.

The former MP said those in high places need to be doing more to represent and protect the nation’s children. She also called on other citizens to join the protest demanding justice for the 16-year-old girl.

Meanwhile, Opposition Member of Parliament Amanza Walton-Desir told reporters that support is needed for the teenager.

“Here you have a man who has allegedly raped and sodomized an indigenous girl, and he is put on bail and kept in custody for four hours. Now, if you are right thinking, you have to see there is something wrong with that because all must be equal before the law. The law is the only equalizing factor that we have in this country and when as Guyanese we begin to equivocate and we begin to selectively to apply the law, we as Guyanese citizens are allowing the country to slide into decline, we must stop it”, Walton-Desir said.

Also on the picket line today in support of the teenager was Pastor Loris Heywood, who said the church needs to stand up and not just be silent on the matter.

“The church in general is called upon to be salt, to be light, to be God’s voice…there are some who like to stay silent and say that is not my calling, but that is not an option. There is a silence that is golden, but there is also a silence that is yellow and people should not be wondering, where is the church in all this”, the Pastor said.

Calls have been mounting for the matter to be treated seriously by the Government, the Police and the Child Care and Protection Agency.

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