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By Paul Slowe CCH, DSM, Assistant Commissioner of Police (Ret’d)
I respond to the recent press release issued by Ms. Gail Teixeira, Minister of Parliamentary Affairs and Governance.
On Sunday October 30, 2022, I attended a town hall meeting in Brooklyn, New York, USA. I was invited by the moderator to make some brief remarks on the current state of the rule of law in Guyana. In my brief presentation, I made reference to my encounter with members of the Special Organised Crime Unit (SOCU) of the Guyana Police Force, when I attended the Georgetown Magistrate Court on October 15, 2021, to answer the trumped-up charge of conspiracy to commit fraud, which was instituted against me and other retired and serving officers of the Guyana Police Force.
I recounted that I was intercepted in the compound of the Georgetown Magistrate Court by Superintendent Krishnadat Ramana and other members of SOCU. Ramana informed me that I was being arrested for the same matter that I was at the court for. He also informed me that I was also being arrested to be cautioned after charge. It must be noted that my attendance at court was in response to a summons, which was applied for by the very Ramana.
I also made reference to the well-publicised incident, which has gained international attention, where ranks of SOCU, on the instructions of Ramana, arrested Attorney-at- Law Tamieka Clarke because she advised her client, who was being investigated by SOCU, not to sign a statement which was given to him.
I expressed the view that those two incidents are an indication that the rule of law in Guyana is under serious threat. My accurate recount of my experience with the ranks of SOCU and the arrest of the attorney, seems to have angered the government of Guyana.
In the statement, Minister Teixeira stated that I am charged with sexual assault of a woman in Guyana. While the statement is true, in the context of its use, I can only conclude that it was made to convey the impression that I am a person of ill repute and therefore lacks credibility. Nothing can be further from the truth.
The matter she referenced is an allegation made by a female police officer in April of 2021, that on March 26 and 29, 2019, and April 2 of the same year I touched her leg and foot, during meetings at Police Headquarters, at which several other persons, including retired and serving police officers, were present.
The matters are still working their way through the legal system, so I am unable to go into further details at this time. The allegations are false, and I will continue to mount a vigorous defence to clear my name.
Minister Teixeira should be reminded that in any country governed by the rule of law, a person is presumed innocent until proven guilty by a competent court. It was also stated that I was suspended as Chairman of the Police Service Commission because I refused to promote senior police officers recommended by the then Commissioner of Police acting, ninety percent of whom were Afro-Guyanese. Why didn’t these local elected officials call-out Slowe for holding back the upward mobility of many of his fellow Afro-Guyanese senior officers in the Guyana Police Force?
Article 212 (1) of the Constitution of the Cooperative Republic of Guyana vest the authority to promote ranks in the Guyana Police Force from Inspector to Assistant Commissioner in the Police Service Commission. The Police Service Commission is comprised of five members, one of whom is the Chairman, appointed by the President, after consultation with the Leader of the Opposition. It is not a one-man show, at least not when I was the Chairman.
The unlawful suspension of all the members of the Police Service Commission (not only Slowe) by the President on June 16, 2021, less than two months before the life of the Commission was due to end, was challenged in the Courts. The merits of the case are still to be interrogated. It may be instructive to note that the Chief Justice was due to hand down her ruling on June 18, 2021, in the challenge to the promotions, which was initiated by Senior Superintendent Calvin Brutus and other ranks. The timing of the suspension is therefore questionable. The challenge resulted in an order from the court which prevented the Police Service Commission from announcing promotions on December 31, 2020.
The Chief Justice threw out the challenge on June 28, 2021. The Police Service Commission released a list of one hundred and thirty-two (132) ranks who were promoted from the ranks of Assistant Commissioner to Inspector, which had been held up since December 31, 2020. The following day (June 29) the Attorney General, Anil Nandalall SC, MP, announced that the Government would not recognise the promotions that were made by the Police Service Commission. The government has still not recognised those promotions. Some of the ranks have retired and have not benefitted from the increases in salary and other benefits which they would have received had the promotions been recognised by the government. How uncaring!
I must add that the Police Service Commission that I chaired promoted hundreds of ranks on December 31, 2018 and 2019. Had it not been for the order of the court following the challenge by Senior Superintendent Brutus and the other ranks promotions would have been made on December 31, 2020.
Having regards to the sequence of events outlined above, it is disingenuous of Minister Teixeira to blame Paul Slowe for not promoting ranks. The Police Service Commission that I chaired did not consider ethnicity in our deliberations on promotions, or any other matter. We looked at the criteria as stated in Standing Order 22 of the Guyana Police Force, which includes ranks passing the Appropriate Qualifying Examination, not having disciplinary and other matters pending, demonstrated competence, and not known to be involved in corrupt activities, among others.
I have noted that in the recent promotions, which were hurriedly made by the current Police Service Commission on July 2, 2022, those criteria seem to have gone through the window.
The Minister and her colleagues are very good at propaganda. Fortunately, the independent and social media provide the opportunity for the truth and facts to be made known.