Habeas corpus hearing relating to 13-year- old By George Barclay
Guyana Chronicle
June 12, 2004

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JUSTICE Beasraj S. Roy yesterday sent 13-year-old Bibi Natalia Hamid to the New Opportunity Corps (NOC) Essequibo, for protection, where she will remain until habeas corpus proceedings and a related contempt motion brought by her mother, are fully heard and determined by the judge.

At the invitation of Attorney General Mr. Doodnauth Singh, Senior Counsel (SC), the judge on Thursday inspected two children’s homes with the hope of chosing one to accommodate the child while she remains under the jurisdiction of the Court.

After inspecting the ‘Save the Kids Home” at Cornelia Ida, West Coast, Demerara, the judge who, had been given some information about the facilities offered by the New Opportunity Corps (NOC), chose the latter as the most suitable, and ordered that the child be kept there for protective purposes until the matter is completed.

The judge ordered that there must be no communication between Bibi Natalia Hamid and Reeaz Khan.

Another decision taken by the judge yesterday was that of appointing an expert to counsel the teenage girl. This suggestion or advice came officials of the Ministry of Labour, Human Services and Social Security. These persons are among interest groups represented at the hearing in Chambers.

Ms Lisa Thompson, the chosen counsellor, was invited to the Judge’s Chambers yesterday, when she was briefed on the case.

Justice Roy made it clear that his decision to send the child to the New Opportunity Corps does no mean that she has committed an offence, or that she is paying the penalty for some wrongdoing. She is there only for protective purposes, the judge pointed out.

The child is the subject of habeas corpus proceedings brought by her mother Bibi Shameeza Hamid, in which she had accused businessman Reeaz Khan of abducting her daughter, and had asked that the girl be produced in Court.

The judge had ordered Khan to produce the girl and he did so.

But the judge had also ordered that the girl be kept in the protective custody of her mother and aunt until the matter was fully heard and determined.

But while the order was still in force, there was an allegation that the girl had been removed from her aunt’s home and taken to a children’s home at Mahaica, from where it is alleged she escaped.

The girl had also filed a petition to marry Reeaz Khan, which petition lawyer Nigel Hughes submitted could not be entertained since the girl was a still a minor and could not take such action without the permission of her parent or the Court.

The girl’s petition has not yet come up for hearing.

However, although Section 30, 31 of the Marriage Act Chapter 45:01 states that a girl under 16 cannot be married except with the permission of the Court, the said law stipulates that the girl may petition the Court for permission to marry but the Court may only grant that permission if it is satisfied that the girl is either pregnant or delivered of child.

In the meantime, Khan was cited for contempt and is to appear before a Bail Court Judge on Monday, June 14, 2004, in answer to the contempt charge.

Khan also appeared before a West Demerara Magistrate on Thursday in answer to a private criminal charge for unlawfully removing the girl from her aunt’s home. He has pleaded not guilty and was placed on $100,000 bail.

He, too, has filed a petition to marry Natalia. That petition is before Chief Justice Mr. Carl Singh, but no date has been fixed for the hearing.