The three-year life span of the Police Service Commission (PSC) expired on September 4, 2017. The offices of Chairman and Commissioners became vacant automatically, and according to Public Security Minister Khemraj Ramjattan, President David Granger is currently in the process of finalising names for the reconstitution of the Commission.
“The President is working on the finalisation of some names for the reconstitution. I am not privy to the names, but I will certainly have an input (in the selection of Chairman and Commissioners). I am not sure if it will come on stream for December, but I suppose it can be done before December,” Ramjattan said.
Prior to the life of the former PSC coming to an end, Minister of State, Joseph Harmon, in a letter dated July 27, wrote to the Commission informing them that the President directed that there be no consideration of promotion for members of the Guyana Police Force (GPF) until further notice and should be implemented immediately.
Observers had criticised the President’s move as unconstitutional, citing Article 226, Section (1) of the Constitution, which states: “In the exercise of its functions under the Constitution, a Commission shall not be subject to the direction or control of any other person or authority”.
When asked about the impact of the President’s decision, former PSC Chairman Omesh Satyanand had said it was a blow for those hardworking Police ranks expecting to be rewarded for their services.
“When you’re working for a number of years, you expect to have an increase in wages and salary; you look forward for promotion because you are working hard and these are expectations of employees and it would affect any organisation from an employee-employer perspective,” he related.
The President’s action was suspected to be the result of a Commission of Inquiry (CoI) that was launched into the effectiveness of the Police Force in investigating the alleged plot to assassinate the Head of State. Granger came in for heavy criticism after he issued the directive, with Satyanand saying that the promotion of the ranks did not have any direct impact on the work or recommendations of the CoI.
The report of the CoI, along with recommendations, was presented to President Granger on August 31. It has been over two months, and the directive is yet to be lifted.
President Granger however, had said that his Government did not intend to trample on the constitutional rights of the PSC, but wanted that whatever was done presented a positive image of the Police Force. He had stated his office received a number of complaints from aggrieved senior Police Officers and had asked that those claims be investigated.
“There have been some doubts and we are investigating the complaints that have been made to us, and we have asked the PSC simply to delay so that we can answer those queries.”
He said as soon as those questions are answered, “we will proceed”.
The President had earlier stated that with the complaints, there was evidence that injustices might have been done. “We just need time to have the complaints from aggrieved Police Officers thoroughly investigated,” he said.
Attorney Rajendra Jaigobin, from the Chambers of former Attorney General Anil Nandlall, filed court action challenging the directive, requesting that it be put on hold. The action was filed in the High Court in August.
Jaigobin said he has a vested interest in ensuring that Guyana’s Constitution was not violated and it was his national duty to ensure that those representatives who, and the democratic organs which, exercise the sovereignty of Guyana on his behalf act in due compliance with the said Constitution in the discharge of their public functions and constitutional duties. (Lakhram Bhagirat)