On Monday night, I called for the immediate resignation of all the members of the Police Service Commission (PolSC) over the Constitutional crisis they have created in the process of appointing an Acting Commissioner of Police.
I note that on Tuesday, PolSC member Mr Courtney A. McNish resigned with immediate effect.
It is now the duty and responsibility of all the remaining members of the PolSC to follow Mr McNish’s lead. I again, call on the remaining members of the PolSC: Chairman Bliss Seepersad, Roger Kawalsingh and Susan Craig-James to tender their resignations forthwith.
Due to the PolSC’s mishandling of this matter, there are now two Acting Police Commissioners. There is also the grave perception that the PolSC’s shambolic handling of this serious matter was driven by direct influence from the Government. If that is true it would be a serious breach of safeguards meant to shield the Police Service Commission and TTPS from political interference.
The Police Service Commission must say whether the list of persons qualified to act as Police Commissioner was sent to the President as required by law. The Commission continues to remain silent on this, however, we understand that the President has acknowledged receiving a list of suitably qualified persons as nominees to act in the office of Commissioner of Police (COP) [See copy of letter attached].
However, the question remains as to why no notification of the merit list was sent for the approval of the Parliament in accordance with section 123 of the Constitution.
The 2009 Order which deals with Acting Appointments states that where the appointment of a successor is pending, the Commission can appoint the Deputy Commissioner of Police (DCP) to act in the office of COP and Assistant Commissioner of Police to act in the office of DCP.
Unlike the Appointment of a DCP to act as COP, which the PolSC can do, the new 2021 Order which deals with persons who are/were on contract, gives no such power to the PolSC. The procedure set out in the Constitution ought to have been followed by the PolSC and the President.
I therefore again call on Her Excellency President Paula-Mae Weekes to state why the list of suitably qualified persons was not presented to the Parliament as required by law, and why the notification of the Appointment to act as CoP was not sent to the Parliament.
Neither the Opposition nor the citizens of Trinidad and Tobago will sit idly by as this PNM Government runs roughshod over our Constitution and democratic institutions.
Kamla Persad-Bissessar, SC, MP
Leader of the Opposition