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Legal action looms over proposed CoP legislation

Published: 
Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Opposition Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar says the Parliamentary Orders governing the appointment of a police commissioner and deputy commissioner are unconstitutional and is calling on the Government to engage in consultations with the aim of drafting “a fair, transparent and accountable process and selection criteria for the (appointment) of a commissioner of police.”

“These orders were ultra vires the Constitution and indeed seek to undermine the independent Police Service Commission (PSC).”

Persad-Bissessar spoke during a news briefing at the Office of the Opposition in Port-of-Spain, yesterday.

She said the Government may approve the orders with a simple majority in Parliament “but thank God the Supreme Court of T&T is the guardian of the Constitution and therefore we have already considered that, should the Government not sit down and let us work together to come up with a fair and transparent process, we will take necessary action though the courts of law.”

Persad-Bissessar said the 2009 orders (Selection Process) “although committing the assessment of candidates in the hands of a firm, facilitated a transparent and a fair process for the soliciting of applications.”

She said, it “also gave the PSC the ability to know the details of all persons who applied—not just the ones who were shortlisted (as is being proposed in the 2015 orders).”

Persad-Bissessar said the new orders allowed a contracted firm to decide on the mode of inviting applications. She said it “no longer gives the PSC (the opportunity) to consult and discuss the results of the short-listed process with the firm and binds the PSC to only consider relevant the information provided by the firm in the exercise of its discretion to nominate.”

She said those changes “have removed from the purview of the PSC the power to truly consider and nominate candidates, as envisaged by the Constitution.”

Persad-Bissessar said, the PSC “has a constitutionally mandated role to nominate under Section 123(2) of the Constitution [and] the PSC cannot delegate that function to another person or body unless it is effected and authorised by the Constitution, which would require constitutional majorities (in Parliament).”

The Government says only a simple majority vote is required to defeat or approve the motions to annul the orders, which will be debated in the House of Representatives on Wednesday and the Senate on Thursday.

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