Ramlal to head Police Complaints Authority

William Ramlal

Retired judge William Ramlal has been designated as the next Chairman of the Police Complaints Authority (PCA).

The PCA has been without a Chairman for a year and a half after the previous office holder, former Chancellor Cecil Kennard, was asked to step down due to his age.

In a statement announcing Ramlal’s imminent appointment, the Ministry of the Presidency yesterday said President David Granger has written to Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo to inform him of his intention to appoint Justice Ramlal, which is in keeping with Section 3 (1) of the Police Complaints Authority Act. It is not clear when he is to take the oath of office.

Under the PCA 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.

In February last year, Kennard, who had been chairman since 2002, was forced to step down by Granger because of his advanced age. At the time, he was almost 80 years old.

Kennard was initially given 36 hours to demit office, however he was given an extension after the intervention of Public Security Minister Khemraj Ramjattan.

Many had argued that it was strange that Kennard was “forced” out of office and no arrangements were made to ensure that the post was quickly filled. President Granger has faced criticism over the decision to force Kennard to step down due to his age and then subsequently appointing Justice James Patterson, 84, to head the Guyana Elections Commission.

The Ministry of the Presidency yesterday released Ramlal’s curriculum vitae. It states that he is retired High Court judge, who served in that position from July, 2000 to January, 2017. He previously served in the magistracy between the years 1988 and 2000, save for a three-year period of private practice from 1989 to 1991.

He also served as a State Counsel in the Attorney General’s Chambers from 1984 to 1988; a teacher at both a private institution and in the public education system, and as a hospital administrator.

The ministry said the retired judge attended the University of Guyana, where he read for the Bachelor of Laws Part One before proceeding to the University of the West Indies’ Cave Hill Campus, where he completed Parts Two and Three. He is also the holder of a Legal Education Certificate from the Hugh Wooding Law School.

The PCA is the only independent body vested with the powers to investigate complaints against the police.

A backlog of complaints will greet Ramlall when he assumes office. Since Kennard’s removal from office last year, there have been several high profile incidents, such as the fatal shooting of three men by the police along the Kingston seawall, in which the official accounts of the police force have been challenged.

With the PCA without a head, the Guyana Police Force’s Office of Professional Responsibly has been the only body conducting investigations into instances of alleged misconduct committed by ranks but members of the public have for years been apprehensive about the police investigating their own.

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