Showdown as govt rejects Police Service Commission’s promotion of officers

Last Updated on Monday, 28 June 2021, 16:32 by Denis Chabrol

Retired Assistant Police Commissioner Paul Slowe

Insisting that President Irfaan Ali’s suspension of the Police Service Commission (PSC) is unconstitutional, Retired Assistant Commissioner Paul Slowe and others on Monday announced the promotion of several officers.

In a letter to the President, the lawyers for Slowe and the others, their lawyer Selwyn Pieters stated that the purported suspension was unconstitutional because the Tribunal has not been established to hear complaints against the PSC members and more so the Tribunal cannot be set up because there is no Judicial Service Commission. “The Police Service Commission will therefore continue to perform its constitutional mandate in respect to discipline and promotion of Guyana Police Force officers from Inspectors to Assistant Commissioners,” Mr. Pieters told the President.

But Attorney General Anil Nandlall said the list of promotions issued on Monday by the PSC must be ignored. “The Government of Guyana rejects as unlawful and illegal, a list of purported promotions of members of the Guyana Police Force by the Police Service Commission,” he said. Mr. Nandlall said the suspension can only be rescinded, revoked, set-aside or reversed by the President himself, or by a court of competent jurisdiction. “No person, let alone, a constitutional commission, will be allowed to become judge, jury and executioner in our constitutional democracy. The Rule of Law simply does not permit it,” said Mr. Nandlall.

Senior Counsel Anil Nandlall

Those, who were left off the list, include Superintendent Calvin Brutus, Deputy Superintendent Ravindra Stanley, Superintendent Shivpersaud Bacchus, Inspector Prem Narine, Assistant Superintendent Shevon Jupiter had been recommended by the Police Commissioner for promotion in November 2020 but the PSC refused to do so.

The list, however, includes Senior Superintendent Edmond Cooper, Senior Superintendent Phillip Azore, Senior Superintendent Kurleigh Simon, Senior Superintendent Marcia Washington, Superintendent Carol Harding, Superintendent Dennis Stephens, Superintendent Walter Stanton, Superintendent Crystal Robinson, Superintendent Hugh Winter, Inspector Marlon Kellman and Inspector Collette Evans.

The announcement of the promotions by the PSC came less than one day after the High Court ruled against Brutus et al who had challenged the Commission not to consider them for promotion because they have pending disciplinary matters.

Attorney-at-Law Pieters stopped short of challenging the President to take the PSC to court for defying his suspension and continuing to perform its duties. “If Your Excellency is not in agreement with the above, it is your prerogative to refer the matter to the courts for determination. The members of the Commission are confident that should you do so, any court will arrive at the inevitable conclusion that Article 255 does not enable you to suspend the members in the manner that you have purported to do,” the lawyer said.

But Attorney General Nandlall indicated strongly that the PSC’s stance signals that those members are biased. “The attempt of the Police Service Commission therefore, to countermand, disobey and disregard the President’s decision, not only amounts to an effrontery to the highest executive office in this land, but is simply absurd. If anyone had any doubts about the independence and rectitude of this grouping who constitute the Police Service Commission, those doubts should now be put to rest.”