Jagdeo warns of executive move against police hierarchy

Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo has once again decried the recently-concluded Commission of Inquiry (CoI) into the police force’s handling of an alleged plot to kill the president, saying it is nothing more than a tool to destroy the careers of hardworking policemen and an avenue to interfere with the Guyana Police Force.

“I believe that this government is using the CoI to shaft some of the senior people in the police force and that it was all carefully planned… to damage the careers of some individuals by this public charade, this buffoonery that took place in the CoI and it was indeed for that purpose,” Jagdeo told a press conference at his Church Street office on Wednesday.

Jagdeo said that the placement and promotion of ranks is the responsibility of the hierarchy of the police force and, therefore, President David Granger’s directive to halt the consideration of a promotions list has become a big issue.

Minister of State Joseph Harmon, through a letter dated July 26, 2017, had informed Marvalyn Stephens, the Secretary of the Police Service Commission that “His Excellency, President David Granger has directed that there be no consideration of promotions for members of the Guyana Police Force by the Police Service Commission until further notice.”

The president’s directive has since been criticised as an attempt to interfere in the functioning of the body, which Article 226(1) of the Constitution says “shall not be subject to the direction or control of any other person or authority” in the exercise of its functions.

A court action has since been filed challenging Granger’s interference.

Following the handing over of the final report of the CoI that was set up to investigate the alleged plot to assassinate the president and the police force’s handling of the probe, Granger signaled that its findings could potentially have a bearing on the delayed police promotions.

“After the comic show, a report gets written and recommendations are made and the president says ‘I will shake up the police force’ and he gets what he wants and then it affects the people who are there and serving well,” Jagdeo, however, said on Wednesday. He also emphasised that careers will be destroyed. “…You are gonna have good policemen who have worked hard… get their careers stymied or not moving forward or they lose out in terms of profession because their work don’t find favour… in New Garden Street,” he added.

After the CoI report was handed over by retired Assistant Commissioner of Police Paul Slowe, who had conducted the inquiry, Granger had said that he believed it is “understandable” that once something is being investigated there should be an administrative delay until the findings are published.

Though he maintained that the two issues were separate, he said it was possible that based on the interpretation of what the CoI had reported, there may be other factors to be considered. “…But it will be premature of me to make any comments on that because I haven’t read the report as yet,” he had added, while admitting that it may take some time before the promotions are sorted out.

Based on the testimony during the inquiry, it was clear that a fractious relationship exists between members of the police force hierarchy, who also faced several accusations of impropriety for their conduct during the course of the investigation.

Granger had emphasised that other “credible” information was received and he resultantly sought a delay of the promotions review to await the outcomes of the complaints against the senior officers and other persons who are interested “before we came to a conclusion about those promotions.”

Prior to the expiration of its life, the Commission had taken a decision to adhere to the president’s directive. Its life came to an end on August 31 and it has been revealed that a process will soon be activated to find new members.

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