The President was ill advised to unconstitutionally appoint and swear in 3 members of the Police Service Commission
I perused a statement from the Guyana Police Association, Re: Appointment of Police Service Commission dated June 1, 2022 signed by Prem Narine, Detective Inspector. Chairman of the Guyana Police Association. The statement alleged that the Guyana Police Association represents the welfare of 4500 ranks.
Prem Narine recalled that the Parliamentary Sub Committee of Appointments unanimously approved the names of nominees of the Police Service Commission sent to the National Assembly. These names were subsequently submitted to the President for his approval and appointment. Narine assumed that the Opposition Members of Parliament would have reported their findings to their leaders before approving the names. He stated that the President and leader of the Opposition had a meeting on May 13, 2022. Another meeting was planned for May 30, 2022, but the Opposition Leader did not turn up. He suggested that meaningful consultation was done at the meeting on May 13, between the President and the Leader of the Opposition. Prem Narine stated that any constitution process at any time takes precedence over other duties, since constitutional matters are of national interest. He concluded that any challenge(s) to the appointments is a direct attack on the welfare of the ranks of the Guyana Police Force and all Guyana.
Editor, please permit me a little more space to respond to the above. Let me first reveal what is stated in the Constitution of the Cooperative Republic of Guyana as it relates to the Composition of the Police Service Commission. Section 210 (1) states, “The Police Service Commission shall consists of – (a) a chairman appointed by the President acting after meaningful consultation with the Leader of the Opposition from among members appointed under subparagraph (c); (b) the Chairman of the Public Service Commission; (c) four members appointed by the President upon nomination by the National Assembly after it has consulted such bodies as appear to it to represent the majority of the members of the Police Force and other such body it deems fit: Providing that a person should be disqualified for appointment as a member of the Commission if he or she is a public officer.”
Section (4) states in part, “If the office of an appointed member of the Police Service Commission is vacant or if the holder thereof is for any reason unable to perform the functions of his or her office, the President, acting after meaningful consultation with the leader of the opposition, may appoint a person who is qualified to be appointed as a member of the Commission to act in that office…; ” The watch words are, “Meaningful Consultation.” Remember when President David Granger appointed Justice Patterson as Chairman of GECOM, there was an appeal. The Caribbean Court of Justice ruled that the appointment was unconstitutional as there was no meaningful consultation. As a result, President Granger had to rescind the appointment. Back to the statement of the Guyana Police Association alluded to above. The Parliamentary process to receive nominees and to approve the list of persons to be approved and submitted to the President for appointment is just part of the constitutional process. For it to be completed there must be meaningful consultation between the President and Leader of the Opposition. The assumption by Prem Narine that the Opposition Members would have informed their leader of what took place is unadulterated piffle. In fact, when the approval took place, Aubrey Norton, the now Leader of the Opposition was not even a Member of Parliament, more so, the Leader of the Opposition. In my honest view, that the meeting between the President and the Leader of the Opposition on May 13, cannot be considered as meaningful consultation but an encounter. A second invitation for a meeting did not materialise, so there were no meaningful consultation as required under the Constitution. I agree with Prem Narine that constitutional duties take precedence over other matters and are of national interest, but that did not materialise in the case under review. The President rushed an unconstitutionally appointed three members of the Commission without meaningful consultation with the Leader of the Opposition as required by the Constitution.
I am alarmed with the Usain Bolt like speed in which the Installed Chairman of the usually dormant and illegal Guyana Police Association hastily defended the unconstitutional action of the President. The appointments were made on May 30, 2022 and the response signed by Prem Narine was on June 1, 2022. In another letter, I will write about the illegal Guyana Police Association. Here are some pertinent questions: Is it that the writer is singing for his supper? Were there intellectual authors or was there a lone wolf? Where was the Association when special constable Shawnette Bollers made allegations against attorney-at-law Navin Singh about assault and racial remarks committed against her by him? Where was the Association when police constable Kellon Gilbert from the Tactical Services Unit was found sleeping on duty at the residence of Harry Gill, Ministerial Advisor to the Home Affairs Minister after performing over eighteen hours of continuous guard duty with a rifle and his photograph was circulated widely in the social media? Allegations are that there were no meaningful consultation with the executive members of the illegal Association in respect to the unlawful appointment of the three members Police Service Commission and the issuing of the statement. The tone and language of the statement appear to be of a political nature. I remember when serving as a member of the Police Service Commission headed by retired Assistant Commissioner of Police Paul Slowe, I read a report from the Commander of the installed Chairman of the Police Association that he was absent from duty and was seen at the Ashmin building during the Elections Fiasco engaging in activities that were not apolitical. The cameras and video images do not lie.
In view of the above, it is pellucid that the President was ill advised by his legal team to unconstitutionally appoint and swear in three members of the Police Service Commission. This is a flagrant violation of the letter, spirit and intent of some of the most sacrosanct constitutional procedures. In this instant case, there are too many constitutional, political, legal and social issues and concerns dangling overhead. They are crying out for urgent judicial review. Let the process begin.
Assistant Commissioner of Police