Parliament approves nominees to police, public service commissions

Clement Rohee

Last night’s approval of those nominated to sit on the Police Service Commission and the Public Service Commission by the National Assembly, could see President David Granger scheduling a meeting with Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo as soon as he returns from official duties abroad.

Despite the concerns raised by the PPP/C MPs, the House adopted the Eleventh Report of the Committee on Appointments to address matters relating to the appointment of members to the Police Service Commission and the Eighth report of the said Committee of Appointments of members of the Public Service Commission which were previously laid in the National Assembly by Chairperson Dr. George Norton.

Retired assistant commissioners Paul Slowe, Clinton Conway, Vesta Adams and Claire Jarvis will sit on the Police Service Commission while Vibert Bowman and Mortimer Livan will sit on the Public Service Commission.

Granger had said last month that he is awaiting parliament’s approval of the nominees before he meets with Jagdeo.

“I cannot (say), I have to wait on Parliament for the nominations…As soon as the parliament completes its work I will ask the Leader of the Opposition to meet”, he had said on May 16 when asked when he plans to meet with the opposition leader. It is expected that during this meeting the two will also discuss the highly talked about rejection of the nominees to the top two judicial posts.

Dr. Norton in his opening remarks on the selection of the police service  commission nominees insisted that he and his fellow committee members endured an “exhausting process”.

The Police Association, the Association of Former Members of the Guyana Police Force, the National Community Policing Executive and the Guyana Association of Professional Social Workers (GAPSW) were contacted with regard to submitting nominees.  GAPSW was consulted after it ascertained that the National Commission on Law and Order, which had been previously consulted, was no longer functioning.

PPP/C front bencher and former Home Affairs Minister Clement Rohee described the report as “damaging” and said it reflects the “incompetence of the government”. He stressed that though the life of the commission came to an end in August last year it took months before efforts were made to get nominations.

“In January the committee began its deliberation on its way forward as if there was no way forward”, he while noting that the constitution sets out the way forward. By February 13 a deadline was set by the committee to the various entities to respond to an invitation calling for a submission of nominees.

Based on what he said, Norton was also mandated to inquire from Public Security Minister Khemraj Ramjattan whether all the entities that are to submit nominees were functioning.

“Surprisingly it took 45 days for Norton to find out from Ramjattan whether they were functioning. Total incompetence! These two gentlemen are sitting in the cabinet they are suppose to be in communication with each other”, he stressed.

Rohee made mention of comments made by State Minister Joseph Harmon that government has launched an investigation into a number of complaints by police ranks which should be dealt with by the police commission as well as the Commission of Inquiry into an alleged assassination plot against the President.

“The question that arose at the time was whether there was legitimate complaints by the ranks why it was being dealt with by the executive and not the existing PSC”, he said, noting that this was a clear example of intrusiveness on the part of government.

According to Rohee, the parliamentary committee was told that the National Commission on Law and Order, which is a body established by Heads of Government of Caricom in each member country was disbanded by government soon after it took office. This nominee was then handed to GAPSW. According to him the parliamentary committee went and found this organisation, which was “hidden away somewhere”. He pointed out that this organisation has nothing to do with law enforcement and questioned the reasoning behind it being asked to submit a nominee. He also expressed concerns about the ethnic makeup of those nominated.

After addressing the House for more than half of an hour, he was asked by the Speaker to end his presentation.

Opposition Chief Whip Gail Teixeira while admitting that the PPP/C has not been attending meetings since October in protest at the unilateral appointment of the GECOM Chairman said in brief remarks that it was parliament that had approved the entities that would submit one nomination each. She said that any change to this, should have gotten the green light from the National Assembly.

She also took issue with the fact that there is no civilian nominee. ”It is always wise to ensure there is a civilian on the commission … I find the report deficient”, she told the House.

Like Rohee, she expressed concern at the length of time it took for the committee to come up with the nominees.

Meanwhile the opposition took issue with the nominees of the Public Service Commission. Nonetheless, those nominated were later approved by the House bringing an end to the sitting.

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