Slowe, others behaving like anarchists; only the Court can say the President is wrong – Nandlall on PSC saga

Attorney General Anil Nandlall and Paul Slowe
Attorney General Anil Nandlall and Paul Slowe

“Who Paul Slowe think he is? Judge, jury and executioner?” – Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs Anil Nandlall, SC expressed on Tuesday as he weighed in on the latest developments regarding the Police Service Commission (PSC).

He made the remarks during his weekly Facebook programme “Issues in the News.

The Guyana Government on Monday issued a statement rejecting as “unlawful and illegal”, a list of purported promotions of members of the Guyana Police Force (GPF) released by the PSC, whose Chairman Slowe and member Clinton Conway are currently suspended by order of President Dr Irfaan Ali.

The ‘suspended’ PSC released the purported list of promotions after the High Court on Monday ruled against Superintendent Calvin Brutus and others who had challenged the Commission not to consider them for promotion because they have pending disciplinary matters.

The Head of State had suspended the PSC members, based on advice from Prime Minister Mark Phillips, in accordance with Article 225 of the Constitution of Guyana. The PSC members are suspended pending the findings of a tribunal to be established.

Nandlall explained that “when the President of Guyana makes a decision like that, that decision is binding…it’s as if the Court makes a decision. Only the Court can review and revoke the President’s decision. No one can determine that they cannot obey the President’s decision.”

The Attorney General acknowledged that “not all dismissals or suspensions are going to be correct, but only a Court can determine the legality of it.”

“You can’t take it upon yourself the determine the correctness or the wrongness of the President’s decision. Who Paul Slowe think he is? Judge, jury and executioner?”

“If the President is wrong, only the Court can say the President is wrong. Paul Slowe cannot determine if the President is wrong, the Police Service Commission cannot determine if the President is wrong. That is not how the law operates,” Nandlall argued.

He said the current posture of the suspended PSC Commissioners is tantamount to anarchy. “If we give in to this kind of disobedience and contumacious behaviour…then this is anarchy…Paul Slowe, et al are behaving like anarchist…they have no place in a society governed by rule of law!”

In explaining the reason behind the Head of State’s move to suspend the PSC members, the Attorney General reminded of the Commission’s “political” decision to join a court case filed against the Guyana Government by the APNU+AFC Opposition.

“Right there they have taken a politically partisan position which offends their constitutional posture,” he explained. Nandlall was referring to the case filed by Opposition Member of Parliament Ganesh Mahipaul who sought to have the Court declare that constitutional agencies are entitled to operate and function free of the exercise of any control by the Executive or any other entity by virtue of Article 122 of the Constitution.

Nandlall pointed out that the PSC, or any constitutional agency, cannot be partial, political, prejudicial.

He reminded that at the time of the court case, the PM had written to the PSC Commissioners asking that they “show cause” why an investigation towards their removal should not be set in motion as a result of them joining the Opposition-sponsored case.

While responses were provided, Nandlall expressed that “the 500-pages response quickly establishes in my mind that there is a matter for investigation.”

Furthermore, the Attorney General referenced the criminal charges currently before Slowe and others. It is alleged that Slowe, Conway, Claude Whittaker, George Fraser, Mark Gilbert, Royston Andries-Junor, Marcelene Washington, Michael Sutton and Marion Kellman, between March 1, 2019 and July 7, 2020, conspired together to defraud the Guyana Police Force (GPF) of $10M.

In wake of the charges, the PM had also written Slowe and Conway, demanding that they show cause why the charges levelled against them should not merit their removal from the PSC.

The Attorney General explained that the Guyana Constitution outlines that a process must be activated to bring about the removal of persons on the PSC and in that process, they must be afforded an opportunity to represent themselves.

“The person who is to begin that process is the Prime Minister and the Prime Minister activated that process by writing to each of the five Commissioners inviting them first to show cause why he should not make a recommendation to the President for a tribunal to be established to investigate their removal,” the Attorney General explained.

He made it clear that all constitutional procedures were followed. However, he explained that the tribunal cannot not be established because there must first be consultation with the Judicial Service Commission (JSC), which is currently not in force.

“So, the tribunal cannot now be established,” Nandlall explained. The JSC has been expired since 2017. Contacted for a comment, Nandlall said the JSC is expected to be constituted “very shortly”.