Gov’t violated constitution by blocking police promotions – CJ

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Attorney General Basil Williams has failed to defend government’s decision to pass instructions to the Police Service Commission (PSC) to halt Police promotions, causing him to lose a legal challenge filed by his predecessor, Anil Nandlall.

The High Court on Wednesday, November 22, 2017, ruled that the government acted unconstitutionally in blocking the PSC from promoting officers within the Guyana Police Force (GPF).

The ruling came after the life of the Commission expired and therefore the decision cannot be reversed.

Attorney Nandlall, who won the case on behalf of a private citizen, told News Room he hopes that the new Commissioners act on the ruling and promote the officers.

Minister of State, Joseph Harmon had ordered the independent constitutional body to halt the promotion of police officers. The Commissioners heeded the executive directive and the promotions were put on hold.

According to the oral ruling handed down by the Chief Justice (ag) Roxane George-Wiltshire, as related by Nandlall, the letter sent to the PSC was in flagrant disregard of the Constitution and is unlawful, null, void and of no effect.

Nandlall said the CJ expressed hope that the PSC did not act upon the unconstitutional order. Nandlall further stated that the CJ expressed that it speaks volumes that the Attorney General did not defend the matter on the merits but rather sought to hide behind legal arguments such as:  “locus standi” and “that the matter is of academic importance”.

Nandlall explained that only two years ago, Minister Simona Broomes issued similar directions to a Service Commission and although the Court with the consent of the Attorney General had declared that that letter had been in violation of the constitution, a similar palpable violation of the constitution was repeated by another Minister.

The Attorney said the CJ said the State should done the honourable thing and correct the error rather than seek to defend these proceedings.

Efforts to contact the Attorney General for his comment on the issue proved futile.

Unfortunate

Meanwhile, Nandlall told News Room that it is unfortunate that the ruling came only after the life of the Commission expired.

Nandlall said the letter created a “great injustice” and expressed hope that the new commission will “take over” from where the previous left off and proceed with the promotions.

The list seen by the News Room shows that the persons tipped for promotions included: Assistant Commissioner of Police (Operations) Clifton Hicken for Deputy Commissioner of Police; Crime Chief, Senior Superintendent Wendell Blanhum, for Assistant Commissioner; Head of Special Branch, Brian Eastman, for Senior Superintendent of Police; Head of Major Crimes Unit, Assistant Superintendent Mitchell Caeser, for Deputy Superintendent; and SWAT Unit leader, Deputy Superintendent Lonsdale Withrite, for Superintendent. Withrite was not a subject of the Commission of inquiry.

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