Apr 14, 2017 News
Minister of State, Joseph Harmon, said yesterday during his weekly post-cabinet press briefing, that there are several constitutional positions that the administration is moving to have filled soon.
The Minister was at the time responding to questions over the appointment of the Ombudsman.
An Ombudsman is an official usually appointed by the government or by Parliament but with a significant degree of independence. The official is charged with representing the interests of the public by investigating and addressing complaints of maladministration or violation of rights.
The typical duties of an Ombudsman are to investigate complaints and attempt to resolve them.
Harmon had told reporters last year that the new Ombudsman would be appointed by the first quarter of 2017 however, the selection process – according to previous report – was not an easy one, since the requirements mandate that the candidates be either a retired Justice of Appeal or Judge of the High Court who is qualified to become a Justice of Appeal.
Asked for an update yesterday, Harmon said that the authorities are still in the process of identifying the candidate and hopes that by the end of this month, an announcement will be made.
In December 2013, after eight years without filling the key position, Guyana appointed an Ombudsman, with Attorney-at-Law and former Justice Winston Moore chosen. Until then, Guyana had been without an Ombudsman since the retirement of Justice Sheik Mohamed in 2005. Moore died in September, rendering the office vacant.
Police Complaints Authority
The position of Chairman of the Police Complaints Authority (PCA) is another ‘big position’ that the Government is moving to have filled soon, Harmon said.
The PCA is an independent corporate body, mandated among other things to independently investigate complaints against police officers involved in criminal offences, police corruption and serious police misconduct.
The former Chairman, Justice Cecil Kennard, was asked to step down in February last due to his age. He is reportedly 81 years old.
The Head of State, President David Granger, had made it clear there was no negative report that prompted the call. In fact, a decision was taken to review all of the boards, agencies and commissions.
“There was a consideration of the length of service and the age of the persons holding those offices… Justice Kennard’s work is exemplary, but the government is focused on creating an atmosphere in which other persons, who are younger, are able to take a lead.
Public Service Appellate Tribunal
Harmon told media operatives that Public Service Appellate Tribunal has been languishing for many years.
“We are looking to ensure that body is also activated because in its absence, public servants who want to challenge their dismissals and so on, they have to engage in the expensive process of going to the High Court,”
The Minister noted also that in many cases, “system does not produce the kind of results they are (public servants) are looking for” in a timely manner.
“The Public Service Appellate Tribunal is also a matter that is on the front burner for us and all of the issues (appointment) we will try to have addressed very shortly.” Harmon said.
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