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Letter: Granger is in breach of Article 226 (1) of the Constitution

I noticed the November 6, 2017, Stabroek News’ article on “President reviewing names for new Police Service Commission…. Ramjattan says new Commission may come in time for Christmas promotions”.
The article pointed out that the three-year life span of the Police Service Commission (PSC) expired on September 4, 2017 and according to Public Security Minister Khemraj Ramjattan, President David Granger is currently in the process of finalising names for the reconstitution of the Commission. The article also correctly pointed out that President Granger has already been accused of disrespecting Article 226, Section (1) of the Constitution, which states: “In the exercise of its functions under the Constitution, a Commission shall not be subject to the direction or control of any other person or authority”.

This announcement by the Minister of Public Security that the President is finalizing the names for the Police Service Commission by December is astounding. Is this another case in the making of yet another violation of the constitutional provisions? Is this another attempt to control the Police Service Commissions as was also earlier done with the Public Service and the Judicial Service Commissions?

There is no ambiguity with regards to Article 210 (1) of the Guyana Constitution, which provides for the appointment of the Police Service Commission as follows:-
“The Police Service Commission shall consist of –

(a) a Chairman appointed by the President acting after meaningful consultation with the Leader of the Opposition from among members appointed under subparagraph (c);

(b) the Chairman of the Public Service Commission;

( c) four members appointed by the President upon nomination by the National Assembly after it has consulted such bodies as appears to it to represent the majority of the members of the Police Force and any other such body as it sees fit”…

Therefore, the President has no nominations of his own, nor, does he have any role in the nomination process.

Instead, it is the Parliamentary Committee of Appointments to Commissions which has been given this responsibility under Article 119C of the Constitution. This Committee, since these constitutional amendments were made in 2001, has consulted with and produced four names, as required each time, that have been approved by resolution in the National Assembly by a simple majority. Those names, once approved by the National Assembly, are then sent to the President to swear in. On four occasions over the years to the last appointed Police Service Commission, both Presidents Jagdeo and Ramotar have appointed the parliament-approved members of the Commission, and meaningfully consulted with the Leader of the Opposition on their selection from amongst the four as to which one will be the chairman. “Meaningful consultation” as defined in the Constitution means that the President and the Leader of the Opposition have to concur on the name of the Chairman.
This model of a parliamentary consensual mechanism which has been enshrined in the constitution also applies to the way in which the other two Service Commissions-Judicial and Public, and the rights commissions are appointed.

Thus, the statement by the Minister on behalf of the President is not only absolutely wrong but extremely worrying in the face of the now repeated and consistent violations of the Guyana Constitution by this President.
We shall be watching closely to see how this issue evolves.
Gail Teixeira, PPP/C M.P.,Chief Whip Parliamentary Opposition

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