Guyana’s president, Irfaan Ali, on Sunday, said that he has “no problem” with a request made by his embattled Local Government and Regional Development Minister, Nigel Dharamlall, to proceed on leave to facilitate an investigation into allegations of sexual assault involving him.
“The minister has requested leave for a full probe into the allegations and I have no problem with it. I have agreed,” Ali told the Caribbean Media Corporation (CMC) in a telephone interview.
He made it clear that his administration “will not stand in the way of any probe” insisting also that “I was never ever formally informed of it (the allegation).
“I was never written to, I have never received any formal letter,” said Ali, who is celebrating the birth of his second child on Sunday, Father’s Day.
Earlier, Ali told the pro-government online publication, NEWSROOM, that “as a government, we are committed to having any facts fully investigated as we hold dearly our girls and women in every community. And we will continue to do everything to ensure their safety and well-being”.
Ali said there would be “no deadline” set regarding the duration of the probe,” telling CMC that he is also aware of the allegations being made on social media, some of which have now been recanted.
The Ministry of Human Services’ Child Care and Protection Agency (CCPA) said it is carrying out a “full investigation” into the matter even as the 16-year-old school girl recanted her allegations.
“The Child Care and Protection Agency is carrying out a full investigation. All support will be provided to the young lady. Our women and girls must be safe and no one is above the law,” said the Minister of Human Services Dr Vindhya Persaud on her Facebook page on Saturday.
Education Priya Manickchand also said that she takes the allegation against the senior government official as serious.
“Allegations of rape and sex assault and gender based violence are not to be made lightly, are not usually made lightly and must always be taken seriously. I begin by believing complainants. Always. Every time. Because the statistics are clear.
Despite the myths, victims of rape and sex assault do not lie about their experiences any more than victims of any other crime. When the complainant is a child the complaint must take on even more urgent dimensions. I have always treated complaints of rape and sex assault urgently. Even more so when a child is involved. And I always will,” she wrote on her Facebook page.
She confirmed that the Chief Education Officer Saddam Hussain had made contact with the teenager and offered her “our full support”.
She urged people against publishing the child’s name on social media since it would be in contravention of the Sexual Offences Act .