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…Police Service Commission tells Phillips
By Svetlana Marshall
The Police Service Commission (PSC), in a joint submission filed through its Attorney Selwyn Pieters, told Prime Minister Mark Phillips that there is nothing unconstitutional about its involvement in the constitutional matter brought by A Partnership for National Unity + Alliance For Change (APNU+AFC) Member of Parliament Ganesh Mahipaul challenging the Fiscal Management and Accountability Act, and as such there is no basis for the removal of the PSC’s Chairman and or Commissioners.
“There is no basis whatsoever to recommend an investigation into the Chairman and Commissioners’ proposed removal from office. No wrongdoing has occurred, and indeed no legal wrong is disclosed in the Show Cause Notice itself, which is exceptionally vague, lacking in specificity, and nakedly political in nature.
The Commission, as an independent constitutional body, is well within its rightful powers in participating in the Mahipaul Action as an applicant, since it was adversely affected by the Appropriation Act of 2021 and the Fiscal Management and Accountability Act Cap. 73:02 with respect of the Fiscal year 2021,” Pieters said on behalf of his clients.
Pieters made the joint submission on behalf of the Chairman of the PSC, Paul Slowe; and Commissioners Michael Somersall, Clinton Conway, Claire Jarvis and Vesta Adams in response to a letter June 1, in which they were asked to show why Prime Minister Phillips should not advise President Irfaan Ali to initiate investigation into the proposal to remove them from Office.
However, from the onset, the Legal Counsel, said the recent letter from the Prime Minister forms part of a plot to remove the Chairman and Commissioners from office over their refusal to give into political pressure from the Government.
“These latest Show Cause Notices constitute yet another attempt by the government of His Excellency the President Dr. Mohamed Irfaan Ali to unconstitutionally and improperly remove the Chairman and Commissioners of the Commission from their independent constitutional offices due to their refusal to give in to the President’s attempts to intervene inappropriately in the staffing and management of the Guyana Police Force,” Pieters said.
Reiterating sentiments expressed in an earlier submission made by Slowe and Conway, Pieters said the assault on the integrity and independence of the Commission began when the Commission refused to promote certain individuals from the ranks of the Guyana Police Force in accordance with the unconstitutional demands of President Ali.
The PSC, through its attorney, said the constitutional matter, which is currently before the Court, is a response to actions of the government that are directly affecting the operation and independence of the Commission and fundamental aspects of the administration of justice as it relates to disciplinary matters involving Senior Superintendent Kazil Karimbaksh.
“The Commission’s involvement in the Mahipaul Action was the consequence of the Commission’s need for, and the Government’s failure to provide, financial means for the Commission to defend itself in court against the application of Senior Superintendent of Police Fazil Karimbaksh, which in turn emerged out of disciplinary proceedings initiated against the said Senior Superintendent following allegations of sexual harassment,” the PSC explained.
It was explained that on November 17, 2020, Karimbaksh filed a Fixed Date Application for Administrative Orders, including an order in the nature of certiorari to quash the charges against him and an order prohibiting the Commission from taking further disciplinary action against him. On December 28, 2020 the Attorney General’s Chambers filed an Affidavit in Defence, however, days before the matter was scheduled to be called before Justice Sandra Kurtzious on January 11, 2021, the Commission was informed that the AG’s Chambers had withdrawn their defence.
Due to the withdrawal of the Attorney General’s Chambers on January 11, 2021, permission was granted by the Court for the Commission to refile its defence, and by January 18, 2021 a defence had been filed.
However, funding became an issue since the AG’s Chamber had always provided legal representation and a request for funding from the Ministry of Finance had been declined. “This refusal by the Ministry of Finance to provide the necessary funds effectively made it impossible for the Commission to hire external counsel for its defence in the matter of Senior Superintendent Karimbaksh’s application. Ultimately, rather than hiring outside counsel, the Commission was forced to rely on its inhouse counsel, Ms. Odessa James, to make its defence in Senior Superintendent Karimbaksh’s application,” the Police Commission explained.
Notwithstanding the various challenges, the Commission was vindicated – it won the case.
Notably, President Ali, during a meeting with the Chairman of the PSC Paul Slowe, and in a subsequent phone calls to him, had asked that Karimbaksh and several other individuals within the Guyana Police Force be promoted, notwithstanding the charges against Karimbaksh and others.