A 14-year-old girl is suing the State for more than $25 million in damages after she was allegedly held against her will and kept in a cell with adult female prisoners while detained at the East La Penitence Police Station in a narcotics probe.
In the lawsuit filed on her behalf by her older sister, the minor claims that she was kept in a cell with adult female prisoners and was subjected to “sexual predatory advances” by other prisoners as well as inhumane conditions.
Against the Director of the Childcare and Protection Agency (CPA), Ann Greene, and the agency itself, the girl is seeking several declarations, including one that Greene breached the duty of care to her imposed by virtue of Guyana’s accession to and ratification of the Convention on the Rights of the Child.
Through her lawyer, Eusi Anderson, she is also seeking exemplary and punitive damages for what she terms as Greene’s negligence and failure to remove her from custody; costs; interest on all award for damages pursuant to the Law Reform (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act, and such further or other order the court deems just.
In the claim filed at the High Court in Demerara, it was stated that between December 3 and 7, 2020, the girl, who was 14 years and 11 months at the time, was held against her will at the Police station in a narcotics investigation.
On December 7, 2020, a bail application and habeas corpus proceedings in favour of the minor were heard by Chief Justice Roxane George and she was thereafter released into the custody of the CPA, the lawsuit details.
The woman claims that during the bail application, Greene informed the Chief Justice that CPA was aware of her sister’s detention having visited the East La Penitence Police Station between December 3 and 7, 2020.
She further claims that Greene informed the court that officers of the CPA were making efforts to “persuade” the Police Commander for Georgetown to release her sibling into the custody of the agency since December 3, 2020.
According to the woman, her underage sister was forced to stay in the cell at the station with adult female prisoners contrary to express provisions of law and duties imposed on Greene and the agency which she heads.
The claim further stated that the girl was subjected to “sleeping in an upright position on a wooden chair, sleeping on a mattress and cardboard on the cold concrete, sexual predatory advances by other prisoners, being foot cuffed to a wooden chair by her ankles for hours and infinite pain and trauma”.
The woman said that the CPA observed all the conditions that her sister had to endure except for the sexual advances by other prisoners, and despite these observations being made as early as December 3, 2020, she was left in that state, condition, and place and no efforts were made to forcibly remove her.
In accordance with the Child Care and Protection Act, Andersons contends that the CPA had a primary duty, while the Attorney General who was also named as a respondent in the lawsuit, had a secondary duty to ensure that the statutory duty of care imposed by the Juvenile Offenders Act, the Rights of the Child Convention and the Childcare and Protection Agency Act on them, to his client, was discharged.
In advocating his case, counsel referred to several provisions of the Childcare and Protection Agency Act, in particular, Section 5 (1) (o) which states that Greene and the CPA have a duty “to promote the rights of the child and to promote public awareness of those rights.” The lawsuit is expected to come up shortly.