Last Updated on Monday, 17 May 2021, 20:51 by Denis Chabrol
The Caribbean Federation of Police Welfare Associations (CFPWA) has refused to recognise Guyana’s newly-elected Police Association, charging that the legitimately elected executive was toppled before its term was completed and a new one elected in violation of the local association’s rules.
“It is on this basis the Caribbean Federation of Police Welfare Association refuse to acknowledge the illegal and illegitimate association derived from such elections. This improper conduct by the administrators of the force must be immediately addressed,” the CFPWA said in a statement.
The CFPWA accused Guyana Police Force acting Deputy Commissioner Calvin Brutus of engaging in a process that “usurped the responsibility of the legitimate Chairman and called an election without the knowledge of the sitting Chairman Inspector Forde.”
But Mr. Brutus disagreed, saying that more than two weeks written notice was given to the then Chairman, Inspector Rosanne Forde. “That is far from the truth because there is documentation to the effect well in advance so if she claims to be oblivious to this, then she is certainly misleading them (CFPWA),” Mr. Brutus said.
The 18-member executive under the Chairmanship of Inspector Prem Narine, according to Mr. Brutus, is the body that is recognised by the Guyana Police Force. The Association is not responsible for matters of discipline and leave of members of the police force but has the legal right to the notice of the Commissioner of Police and the Minister matters affecting their general welfare and efficiency.
The Police Association is entitled to a representative to sit on the Police Service Commission which is responsible for promotion of and disciplinary action against officers.
Referring to the two Guyana Police Association elections that were held on May 11 , the CFPWA said they were held eight months before they were constitutionally due. “We recognize the unfortunately challenging environment that faces our Guyanese police colleagues. It is our view that this level of skullduggery and high-handed behaviour by the administrators of the Police Service is designed to the detriment of the legitimately elected body lead by Inspector Rosanne Forde,’ the regional body said.
He further stated that the term of office is one year in keeping with the Police Force Standing Orders and not three years under a rule book that the Association has been using for decades. “What they were following was something called a rule book which was not made into law for whatever reason, I don’t know. In effect, what it is , it has no legal standing,” he said.
He further explained that the Guyana Police Force’s Standing Order 35 details “a long list of the process to be followed” for the election of an executive of Guyana’s Police Association. “Every step was followed in my instance,” said Mr. Brutus who was responsible for managing the electoral process.
Referring to the Forde-led election process, he said there was a show of hands for several executive members except for the posts of Chairman and Vice Chairman.
The CFPWA also criticised Police Commissioner Nigel Hoppie for retrenching the Association’s executive 293 days before its next elections were due to be held. The regional umbrella body accused Mr. Hoppie of violating the local association’s rules. The Police Act empowers the Commissioner of Police and the Minister of Home Affairs to make rules for the Association. “The Commissioner may with the approval of the Minister make rules for the constitution and the governance of the Police Association as to any matters appertaining to.”
The regional federation expressed concern that the Police Commissioner allegedly declared both elections null and void and then “backpedaled and accepted the results of an illegitimate election. ” “The Federation is seriously concerned that a Commissioner of Police who must have some appreciation for the rule of law would acquiesce at a retrenchment of a legitimately elected body mandated to serve its three-year tenure. This is not our finest hour as long as this miscarriage of justice is accepted. The CFPWA will not evade the grim reality,” the association said.
The CFPWA urged that “free, fair, and transparent” elections be held in keeping with the “prescribed rules” to remove any taint from the Police Association’s image. “The level of gamesmanship displayed by the administrators of the Guyana Police Force on May 11th, 2021 is deeply regrettable. This has left much to be desired, and it does not portrait who we are as Caribbean Police Officers. This is a dark day in the history of Caribbean Policing and definitely for welfare.”
The CFPWA called on the Police Service Commission, the Minister of Home Affairs Robeson Benn and the Attorney General Anil Nandlall to intervene in resolving the issue.