No decision yet on appealing ruling against sending ex-SWAT commander on leave

-AG

Attorney-General (AG) Basil Williams SC said yesterday that his office will review whether it will challenge a High Court ruling that the decision to send ex-Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) Unit head, Deputy Superintendent Motie Dookie, on leave was unconstitutional, while noting that the concern now is what ought to be done if there is no Police Service Commission in place.

“We will look and see how the court dealt with it and then we will decide whether we are appealing it [but] we have the Police Service Commission now,” he said during a press conference yesterday.

Williams said that his Chambers will have to look at the matter to see if it makes sense to appeal. He said the whole case did raise a good question: “What is the State to do when there is no Commission, whether Public, Teaching or Police?”

He questioned whether in the case of a senior rank who commits an egregious act, the state and the government are “to be without remedy in treating with this person because there is no Police Service or Public Service Commission.”

The SWAT head had been accused of smuggling 30 cases of whiskey in December last year, but was spared of criminal charges after the driver of the vehicle that he was in at the time of the interception took full responsibility for the contraband.

He was relieved of his duties as Commander and temporarily transferred to the force’s Strategic Planning Unit to facilitate an internal investigation. In a surprise move, he was subsequently posted to ‘A’ Division but reassigned to Police Headquarters, Eve Leary, a few days later. He was sent on special leave following a high profile meeting.

Former Commissioner of Police (ag) David Ramnarine subsequently sent Dookie on leave.

Williams told reporters that during arguments, his Chambers invoked the doctrine of necessity, particularly given that there was no Police Service Commission and the fact that the act allegedly committed was so egregious that for Dookie to be allowed to remain amongst the ranks of the Guyana Police Force could affect morale and could have a negative effect on law enforcement.

According to the AG, in those circumstances, their position is that the government can “properly” act under the doctrine of necessity to deal with Dookie until the Police Service Commission, under whose jurisdiction he would fall, could have been reconstituted.

He pointed out getting it reconstituted is a lengthy process.

On August 9th, retired Assistant Commissioner of Police Paul Slowe was sworn in as the new Chairman of the Commission, while retired Assistant Commissioners Clinton Conway and Vesta Adams and Claire Jarvis, along with Public Service Commission Chairman Michael Somersall took the oath of office as the other members.

Williams said that given that the body was recently reconstituted, he is awaiting a report from the lawyers who represented the state in the court case.

The letter from Ramnarine, captioned “SPECIAL LEAVE IN THE PUBLIC INTEREST,” stated, “With reference to the above subject, I wish to inform you that a decision has been taken for you to proceed on Special leave in the Public Interest, with immediate effect.”

However, in a statement on May 27th, attorney Anil Nandlall challenged the decision, saying that only the Police Service Commission had the lawful authority to send Dookie on leave.

Nandlall, in his statement, had said that whatever wrong Dookie was accused of, at a minimum he was entitled to due process and protection under the law.

To this end, he cited Article 212 of the Constitution and argued that not even the President has any lawful authority to give directions to the Commissioner of Police to send Dookie on leave.

Dookie was sent on leave during the period that Minister of Citizenship Winston Felix was performing the functions of Public Security Minister. At the time, the substantive Minister, Khemraj Ramjattan, was abroad on official duties. Both Felix and Permanent Secretary (PS) of the Department of the Public Service, Reginald Brotherson had justified the decision.

Felix, during an interview with this newspaper, said Dookie was sent on special leave with full pay in accordance with the 1987 Public Service Rules while Brotherson has explained that the absence of the commission, the authorised minister or agency can take action against police ranks using the Public Service Rules.

Justice Fidella Corbin-Lincoln, who heard Dookie’s application for relief, last Friday granted him a writ of certiorari, quashing Ramnarine’s decision.

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