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High Court puts temporary brake on Police Service Commission promotions

Last Updated on Thursday, 31 December 2020, 14:58 by Denis Chabrol

Senior Superintendent of Police, Calvin Brutus flies one of the drones. (file picture)

The High Court on Thursday extended its temporary order, effectively blocking the Police Service Commission (PSC) from promoting several officers to the rank of Assistant Commissioner until a challenge by Senior Superintendent Calvin Brutus that he is being bypassed due to a perceived frivolous complaint of indiscipline is resolved.

Chief Justice Roxane George-Wiltshire gave  Attorney General Anil Nandlall, who is representing the PSC, until January 12, 2020 to acquire all the relevant information, advise both sides and suggest to the High Court how the case should be dealt with.

Mr. Nandlall hopes to have the matter withdrawn from the court.

She noted that she has not heard from the other parties affected. They are Senior Superintendents Kurleigh Simon, Phillip Azore and Edmond Cooper who are all tipped to be promoted to Assistant Commissioner. The Attorney General told the court that he was concerned about how the legal actions over promotions could affect the stability of the Guyana Police Force. “In terms of the police force, this is a very serious development,” he said, adding that he did not receive “proper instructions” from the PSC or the Police Commissioner, Nigel Hoppie.

He hoped that the issues could be resolved outside the courtroom. “These are not matters that, I believe, should be contested. I don’t believe that it helps the police force which is so important to the administration of justice to have these matters ventilated publicly and it must have reached this stage as a result of a real serious breakdown between the institutions,” Mr. Nandlall said. In that context, the Chief Justice agreed that there was no need for lingering disagreements in the police force. “I do appreciate what the Attorney General has said that one doesn’t want to have discord in such an important institution as the Guyana Police Force,” she said.

The Chief Justice remarked that if “everything is sorted out”,  Messrs. Simon, Azore and Cooper would not suffer any loss.

The PSC, which was appointed under the then David Granger-led administration, is chaired by retired Assistant Commissioner Paul Slowe.

The High Court has already ruled that  a President of Guyana could not instruct the PSC to halt police promotions as Mr. Granger had done when the commission that had been appointed by the then People’s Progressive Party (PPP) administration had been on the verge of elevating several officers. The PSC’s independence is cloaked in the constitution.

Senior Superintendent Brutus wants the High Court to overrule the PSC’s practice of not promoting officers with pending disciplinary matters. He has said in court papers that all he has had was a notice from Assistant Police Commissioner Royston Andries-Junor but he had never been called to defend himself against the pending administrative charge.