Last update: 07-Dec-2013 3:12 am
Saturday, December 07, 2013
Trinidad & Tobago Guardian Online
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Police Service Commission remains in limbo
The operations of the Police Service Commission, a critical independent body to oversee the efficiency of the Police Service and performance of the top brass, have been stalled since July 20. Chairman of the Police Service Commission (PSC) Prof Ramesh Deosaran says since July 20, the three-year tenure of four commissioners—Addison Khan, Jacqueline Cheesman, Martin George and Kenneth Parker—expired and there have been no new appointments. As a result, the Commission has no quorum as Deosaran, who was appointed in 2011, is the only remaining member. Deosaran, who was a recipient of T&T’s highest national award—the Order of T&T—on Independence Day, said he continues to go to the office to carry out certain functions. In a telephone interview with the T&T Guardian, yesterday, Deosaran said among the major matters being affected was the Commission’s appeal process. Several appeals have been sent to the Commission for determination, but “have been pushed on the back burner until the appointments are made.”
He said there were several important matters to be addressed by the commission, including the appointment of a Commissioner and Deputy Commissioners of Police. Deosaran added that there were proposals for the reform of the system for appointing them, but they cannot be addressed without members of the Commission being appointed. He said those matters can only be addressed “efficiently and tactfully when members of the Commission are appointed.” PSC members are to be appointed by President Anthony Carmona after consultation with the Prime Minister and Leader of the Opposition. Nominees are debated in the Parliament before being confirmed. Deosaran said he hoped the new members when appointed will agree to sit on the Appeals Committee of the PSC. Several attempts to contact the Office of the President for comment proved futile.
Former president of the Law Association Dana Seetahal, SC, said she was surprised that such an important body could remain without members for so long, and if the PSC was expected to function effectively it must be properly constituted. Seetahal, in a telephone interview, said if the members of the Commission have not been in place for several weeks, the Police Service “cannot be operating at its optimum.” She said she was surprised that Deosaran had not made the issue public earlier. “Clearly he must appreciate that his position with(out) the other members is untenable,” Seetahal added. Leader of the Opposition Dr Keith Rowley has blamed the Government for this situation, saying the Government “has collapsed and this situation was another clear example of that collapse.” Rowley spoke briefly with the T&T Guardian yesterday about the situation, which is similar to the delay in the appointment of members of the Integrity Commission earlier this year, when it had a chairman in office and no other member. He said every aspect of life in the country was being adversely affected because of the collapse of the People’s Partnership Government.
The PSC’s role The commission is empowered by the Constitution to:
Evaluate the efficiency and effectiveness of the performance of the Commissioner and Deputy Commissioners of Police;
Hear and determine appeals by officers against the Commissioner in respect of his decisions on promotions and discipline;
Appoint the Commissioner and Deputy Commissioners of Police (through a selective process determined by Parliament)
Remove from office the Commissioner and Deputy Commissioners of Police and exercise disciplinary control over them.
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