The Prime Minister is attempting to arbitrarily remove the oversight role played by our elected representatives in the examination of acting appointments for commissioner and deputy commissioners of police. Ironically, he is introducing this anti-democratic step while simultaneously touting constitutional reform and open governance.
The Prime Minister is quoted as saying, “I could tell you now this whole inconvenience of the Parliament having to approve an acting commissioner, if the commissioner goes out of the country, the attorney general is currently instructed and is under way in the next few weeks or days, as the case might be, we are going to come to the Parliament and we are going to change that regulation to prevent the Parliament or, we will try to prevent the Parliament from having to approve an acting (appointment) for a day or two or for whatever period.”
This planned move will deny Parliament the opportunity to analyse the nominees who are to act in the most senior police positions, especially at a time when Trinidad and Tobago is enduring a violent crime crisis. This will create an easier avenue for the appointment of political cronies of the ruling regime or incompetent nominees.
In October 2021, Anand Ramlogan S.C. took a matter to court to expose the then President Paula Mae Weekes as being ignorant of the law when she refused to forward the POLSC Merit List to Parliament. The court confirmed that all acting appointments for commissioner of police and deputy commissioners of police must go to Parliament to be approved. Keith Rowley sat on this for over two years and during that period, was content or saw no reason to amend the law.
The government’s agenda is clear, they are now moving to appoint a handpicked DCP, who would act in replacement of Erla Christopher as COP when she is inevitably replaced for chronic non-performance.
The UNC will always support good law that increases efficiency, transparency and accountability. However, the Prime Minister’s plot is politically partisan, reckless, and irresponsible with an aim to impose on the country a commissioner of police submissive to him.
If the Prime Minister can regularly allocate time for feteing and golfing, surely, attending parliament to debate acting appointments of COP and DCP cannot be an ‘inconvenience’.
Kamla Persad-Bissessar, SC, MP
Leader of the Opposition