President Ali swears in members of Police, Integrity Service Commissions

President Dr Irfaan Ali

President Dr Irfaan Ali today swore in members of the Police Service Commission (PSC) and the Integrity Service Commission.

The new members of the PSC are: Ernesto Choo-a-Fat, Attorney-at-Law Charles Conway, businessman Hakeem Mohammed and Pastor Patrick Findlay.

The new members of the Integrity Commission are: Chandra Gajraj, Attorney Kim Kyte-Thomas, Mohamed Haniff and Hardesh Tiwari.

These members were nominated by the Parliamentary Committee of Appointments. In the case of the PSC, Mohammed was unavailable to attend today’s swearing in ceremony and will take his oath of office at a later date.

On May 13, President Ali and the Opposition Leader Aubrey Norton held consultations on these and other constitutional service commissions.

Norton was invited for another meeting on Monday to continue these talks but he did not show up nor did he send his contributions in writing as was requested by the government.

President Ali had made it clear that the development of the country will not be held hostage by political objects as he labelled the Opposition Leader’s actions as immature.

President Ali had suspended the PSC after its then Chairman, Paul Slowe, and then Commissioner, retired Assistant Police Commissioner Clinton Conway, were slapped with fraud charges.

They, along with other retired and serving members of the Guyana Police Force (GPF), have been implicated in a $10 million fraud over duties delegated to them for revising the Police Force’s raft of Standing Orders. It is alleged that they collected payments amounting to $10M, but never provided the Force with a raft of revised Standing Orders.

In addition, Slowe is facing three counts of sexual assault. It is alleged that on three occasions in 2019, at Police Headquarters, Eve Leary, Georgetown, he sexually assaulted a senior Policewoman by rubbing her left leg and foot without her consent. President Ali suspended the PSC weeks after the Prime Minister had written to Slowe and Conway, asking them to show cause why the fraud charges against them should not result in their removal from the PSC.

In that letter, the Prime Minister had said he was exercising powers vested in him by Article 225 of the Constitution, which mandates that a person shall not be removed from a constitutional office, except for inability to discharge the function thereof, or for misbehaviour.

That article further provides that a constitutional office holder can be removed by the President if an appointed tribunal recommends the removal of that person. The tribunal is to be appointed following the advice of a prescribed authority, in this case the Prime Minister, and is to be constituted in consultation with the Judicial Service Commission (JSC).

The JSC is currently not functioning. The last JSC was appointed by former President Donald Ramotar on September 11, 2014. The tenure of each appointed member is for three years; therefore, the tenure of the last JSC expired in 2017.

The PSC is vested with the authority to exercise disciplinary control over persons holding or acting in high offices within the Police Force, or even remove them from office.

The PSC also deals with the promotion of Policemen above the rank of Inspector. The Government, on June 28, 2021, rejected as “unlawful and illegal” a list of purported promotions of members of the Police Force issued by the PSC.

Meanwhile, the Integrity Commission is one component of Government which helps in the pursuit of honesty and transparency in the administration. Its mission is stated as “Securing the Integrity of Persons in Public Life”.