Opposition Leader asks court to block Norton-Ali consultations for acting Police Commissioner

Last Updated on Friday, 1 July 2022, 22:25 by Denis Chabrol

President Irfaan Ali and Opposition Leader Aubrey Norton;. Dr. Ali was accompanied by Attorney General Anil Nandlall and Mr. Norton was by Attorney at Law, Roysdale Forde.

Opposition Leader Aubrey Norton on Friday asked the High Court to order that there be no consultations between Opposition Leader Aubrey Norton and President Irfaan Ali next week Monday on the appointment of Mr. Clifton Hicken as acting Police Commissioner until a case challenging the constitutionality of the Chairman of the Police Service Commission (PSC) is determined.

“Pending the hearing and determination of this Application an Order staying any process of meaningful consultation under Article 211 (1) of the Constitution on the subject of the appointment of a Commissioner of Police of Guyana between the President and the Leader of the Opposition purportedly initiated by a letter dated the 29th day of June, 2022, which requires the Leader of the Opposition to respond in writing by the 4th day of July, 2022, until the hearing and determination of this Application.

In court papers seen by Demerara Waves Online News, Mr. Norton is challenging the constitutionality of Dr Ali’s appointment of the Chairman of the PSC, Patrick Findlay on the grounds that there was no meaningful consultation between him and the Guyanese leader. As such the High Court is being asked to prevent Mr Findlay from engaging in meaningful consultation as the Chairman of the Police Service Commission with the President for the appointment of a Commissioner of Police and or for appointment or appointments of Deputy Commissioner of Police until the hearing and determination of the matter.

Mr. Norton wants the High Court to declare that the appointment of  Mr Findlay on May 31, 2022 did not occur after meaningful consultation with the Leader of the Opposition as required by Article 210 (1) (a) of the Constitution of Guyana and is illegal, null, void and of no legal effect.

Minister of Governance and Parliamentary Affairs, Gail Teixeira on Wednesday, June 29 explained that Mr. Hicken was appointed to act as Police Commissioner because at that time there was no Opposition Leader in place but government could not have left the force without someone at the helm after then acting Police Commissioner Nigel Hoppie proceeded on preretirement leave on March 30, 2022. She went on to indicate that government was interested in retaining Mr Hicken as the top cop. “His Excellency is nominating Mr Clifton Hicken to act in the Office of Commissioner of Police. I am attaching Mr. Hicken’s curriculum vitae for easy reference.  Your considered opinion on the subject is hereby invited in writing on or bef9re Monday, 4th day of July, 2022,” Ms Teixeira told Mr. Norton.

Mr. Norton was sworn in as Opposition Leader on April 13, 2022,

The Opposition Leader said that contrary to the need for meaningful consultations on the appointment of a PSC Chairman, the President  has not provided him with the grounds and/or reasons for making each specific recommendation for appointment but on May 31, 2022 went ahead and appointed Mr Findlay “unilaterally.”

His lawyer, Roysdale Forde, feared that the unconstitutional action of the President could further fractionalize the Guyana Police Force. “This facilitates an amplification and aggravation of extant weaknesses and vulnerabilities of the Force. This would compromise the authority of that state agency to enforce compliance to the laws and erode public confidence in the work of the Guyana Police Force,” he said.

Mr Norton is also challenging similarly the appointment of the Chairman of the Integrity Commission, Chandra Gajraj and other members if that body Dr Kim Kyte-Thomas, Imaam Mohammed Ispahani Haniff, Pandet Haresh Tiwari and Reverend Wayne Bowman.

Mr Forde Forde said the President’s appointment runs counter to his much vaunted plan to create ‘One Guyana’.  “The action of the President to race ahead, indecently, to appoint and swear chairmen and members of those commissions, in substance, constitutes a violation in principle and practice of the law and a betrayal of the political process that allows the voices of the minority [those without economic and/or political power] to be heard and their rights recognized and respected. This has far- reaching implications to the social and economic wellbeing of all Guyana,” said Mr Forde who is the Shadow Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs.