New head of police complaints body to be appointed soon – Ramjattan

Khemraj Ramjattan

Public Security Minister Khemraj Ramjattan is assuring that a new Chairman of the Police Complaints Authority (PCA) will be appointed soon.

The PCA has been without a chairman since last February, when former Chairman Justice (retired) Cecil Kennard was forced to step down by President David Granger because of his advanced age.

Kennard, who had been the PCA Chairman since 2002, was almost 80 years old.

“There are some recommendations that have gone to Minister of State Joseph Harmon,” Ramjattan told Stabroek News on Thursday.

While noting that the appointment is to be made by the president, Ramjattan said that he expects the vacancy to be filled soon. He did not indicate how many names were up for consideration.

“I have been told that they are going to do the assessment of the names and all of that,” he, however, noted.

Stabroek News had been told that that Kennard became aware of the decision to remove him from office while he was on holiday. He was initially given 36 hours to demit office, but this period was extended after he made contact with Ramjattan.

Observers and persons close to Kennard have said that they find it strange that he was “forced” out of office and no arrangements were made to ensure that the post was quickly filled.

Under the Police Complaints Authority Act, it is the sole responsibility of the president to appoint a PCA chairperson from persons who are qualified to be a puisne judge of the High Court.

President Granger has faced criticism over the decision to force Kennard to step down and then failing to fill the vacancy.

At the time, he had said that Kennard’s removal was part of his administration’s move to establish an age limit for membership of state boards, agencies and commissions, in order to pave the way for younger persons to take the lead.

“So it is not a criticism of his [Kennard’s] service but there will be a general order explaining our policy on age and retirement for agencies, boards and commissions but at the same time we hope to give other persons an opportunity to serve so that over a period of time we build up expertise in the younger generations too. So it is not a criticism of Justice Kennard. There will be further information but nobody is being purged. We are simply trying to give other persons the ability to serve,” Granger said after being questioned then about Kennard’s removal.

Former Public Utilities Commission Chairman Justice (retired) Prem Persaud was also forced to step down around the same time due to his age.

However, months after the president appointed Justice James Patterson, 84, to head the Guyana Elections Commission, leading to criticism that the age policy was being selective applied.

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