It is an established and accepted principle of governance, that the independence of constitutional commissions is to be protected from political contamination. It is a venal political sin for any member of the government to attempt to instruct a service commission established under the Constitution.
Reports in the media have indicated that a letter was purportedly written to the Chairperson of the Police Service Commission to the effect that the Commission should not make any promotions.
The full contents of the letter have not been made public. It is therefore not clear whether the language used in the letter suggested that this was an ‘instruction’ or a ‘suggestion’. The letter was NOT written by the President, but was said to be written on his behalf.
Certain things need to be made clear. The President cannot suggest anything to an independent service commission nor can the President instruct the commission to do anything. Constitutional commissions are not political footballs. They cannot be kicked around. They are not partisan in make-up. They are insulated from political meddling or interference.
The Police Service Commission is not a one-man show. The Police Service Commission is not a partisan body appointed by the PPPC. The Chairperson is appointed after consultation with the Leader of the Opposition.
The Chairperson of the Public Service Commission is automatically a member of the Police Service Commission. The other four members are selected by the National Assembly, after consultation with bodies which appear to represent members of the Guyana Police Force. The Police Service Commission therefore cannot be viewed as a creature of Freedom House
Since the purported ‘offensive’ letter has not been made public, it is hard to determine whether any reason was given for the request that promotions not be made. There is no prohibition against government writing to the Commission, providing information which can be useful to that body in its work, providing that no attempt is made to interfere or influence the work of the commission.
There can be legitimate reasons for the government to ask the Police Service Commission to not make any promotions. For example, if a decision has been taken to restructure the Guyana Police Force, then it makes sense for the government to give notice to the Commission that it intends to revamp the organizational structure of the force, and it therefore would like the Police Service Commission to defer promotions until such time as the new structure is approved.
If the Chairperson of the Police Service Commission has been given a valid reason why there should not be promotions, then the Commission should discuss this reason and determine how it will respond.
If no valid reason or no reason at all has been provided, the Chairperson should ignore the letter or reply, reminding the person who wrote the letter of the independence of the commission, and its resolve to resist any attempt to undermine that independence.
In other words, if no valid reason or no reason at all was provided to the Commission why it should not have promotions, then the Police Service Commission can simply toss the offending letter in the garbage bin, where perhaps is where it belongs. Or it can be nice and reply, asking the basis for the request that promotions be placed on hold.
The government has a duty to explain to both the Police Service Commission and the Guyanese people, the reasons why it is making this request. The police officers who are expecting to be promoted are also entitled to an explanation.
It is important that this explanation be made public, given the serious charges which are being leveled against the government by the opposition. The opposition pointed out that government did not proceed with the recommendations made by the judicial service commission in respect to appointment of judges.
The opposition claims that the recommendations were ‘sat on’ until a new commission was established. If these charges are true and when combined with court rulings in respect to recent constitutional challenges, then Guyana is entering the ‘dark zone’ of rule by whim and fancy.
Even Burnham, a tyrant, did not go as far as trampling on the independence of service commissions. He was careful about ensuring a façade of constitutional rule.
This purported letter should be of concern to every citizen. When citizens lose the protection of the Constitution, they expose themselves to lawlessness of the government. A government which can run roughshod over the Constitution can do what it pleases to its citizens. It does not have to respect your rights, your property or even your existence. It can do what it wants to them because the Constitution – the highest law of the land – is no longer there to protect citizens. This is the seriousness of the matter which is now before this nation because of this letter, the contents of which have not been made public.
It is hoped that the Police Service Commission will study seriously, the letter which has been sent to it, and will react in a sensible manner without compromising its independence, because if it does this, then all of Guyana is doomed to an uncertain and frightening future.
Aug 18, 2017By Sean Devers The Warriors could not want better support. The atmosphere was absolutely fantastic at Providence last night as a sold out crowd, only second in size to Trinidad, danced and waved...
Aug 18, 2017
Aug 18, 2017
Aug 18, 2017
Aug 18, 2017
Aug 18, 2017
Editor’s Note, If your sent letter was not published and you felt its contents were valid and devoid of libel or personal attacks, please contact us by phone or email.