Government has launched an investigation into accusations of abuse and malpractice within the Police Service Commission as well as the Guyana Police Force following mounting complaints by police ranks, President David Granger said on Wednesday.
The President said that there have been many legitimate complaints by members of the Police Service Commission (PSC) and aggrieved police officers of abuse and malpractice in the Guyana Police Force (GPF) and it is precisely for this reason that he has asked for the promotion of police officers to be delayed. “We are investigating the complaints which have been made to us and we have asked the Police Service Commission to simply delay so that we can answer those queries, and once those queries are satisfactorily answered we will proceed. It’s no intention on my part to impede the work of the Commission,” the President said.
Speaking to the media at State House, the Head-of-State explained that his primary focus is the prevention of any further damage to the security sector. He noted too, that his Government cannot and will not ignore the complaints and evidence of injustices, which may have taken place. In a letter dated June 26, Minister of State, Mr. Joseph Harmon informed the PSC of President’s Granger request to put on hold the promotion of officers of the Force to allow for further scrutiny of the proposed list of ranks.
“We are not trying to trample on the constitutional rights of the Commission, but damage can be done if persons, who are not fit and proper, make decisions which are injurious to public security. We want the constitutional Commission to function efficiently but at the same time we want to make sure that the public can depend on the decisions that come out of that Commission being in the best interest of the nation,” the President reiterated.
This newspaper had earlier reported widespread dissatisfaction over the list of officers submitted to the PSC for promotion, which has sparked quiet protest within the force. The Guyana Chronicle understands that an internal police committee that would normally make recommendations to the PSC for promotions, did not meet on this occasion and it is unclear how the names for promotion were arrived at.
This newspaper was reliably informed that a number of aggrieved officers raised their concerns to the government about the list which they deemed as ‘defective’. “This list that was submitted has officers who are not fit for promotion. This is a very bad list,” a senior officer had told this newspaper.
In a statement issued last Tuesday, Leader of the Opposition, Bharrat Jagdeo, said it had been brought to his attention that President Granger has caused a letter to be dispatched to the Police Service Commission (PSC),instructing the Commission not to proceed with any promotion in the Guyana Police Force (GPF)until further directed by the President. Jagdeo said Article 226(1) of the Constitution clearly states:
“In the exercise of its functions under the Constitution, a Commission shall not be subject to the direction or control of any other person or authority. “The Police Service Commission is one of the Commissions to which Article 226(1) makes reference. “We urge the Police Service Commission (PSC) not to succumb to these unconstitutional and unlawful directives, but to continue to discharge its mandate in the manner provided for by the Constitution,” Jagdeo said.
Minister with responsibility for Public Security, Khemraj Ramjattan, earlier this week said he agrees with President Granger, stating that his decision to put a hold on the promotions was “perfect and correct.”
Ramjattan told the Guyana Chronicle on Monday that in his view, the ongoing CoI was not what prompted the hold on police promotions, but a lot of issues had arisen in the manner in which policemen were being promoted. He said that while the Commissioner of Police makes recommendations for the relevant posts, it is the president in consultation with the opposition leader, who appoints the commissioner and his deputy.
The Public Security Minister noted that among the issues surrounding police promotions was the fact that police ranks with poor history were being elevated, pointing to the police ranks who had tortured a teenage boy by pouring a liquid on his genitals and setting it alight, as an example. He pointed out that the Force was seeing the promotion of police ranks who were not even recommended, and this was a complaint made by both the Police Commissioner and Assistant . The matter is so that last year the force saw an influx of inspectors who are over 50 being promoted and added to the existing lot.
He said some “unhealthy” decisions were being made regarding those promotions. He hinted too that the life of the current police commission had less than a month left and there was no need for a rush in promotions when even the leadership of the force had expressed concern. In the past, there have been many complaints that senior ranks were being held back, while some junior ranks were surpassing them.
Not the first time
It is not the first time concerns have been raised over promotions within the Guyana Police Force (GPF). Back in 2015, Police Commissioner Seelall Persaud had defended the decision to promote two ranks–one an officer who had burnt a teenager’s genitals. Persaud had said then that the men were exonerated in the criminal trial and no departmental charges were recommended against them. Narine Lall and Mohanram Dolai were promoted by the Police Service Commission (PSC) who described their records as unblemished apart from an incident back in 2009, while stationed at the Leonora Police Station, they poured methylated spirits on a West Bank Demerara (WBD) teenager while investigating a murder.
In defending the promotion of the men, Persaud had said: “Well we have a policy on discipline of ranks…if they are convicted they are dismissed, if they’re exonerated then they become a member of the force … if anyone is disciplined, two years after they are eligible for consideration.”
However, following the coalition’s victory at the polls in May 2015, Corporal Dolai, who was found criminally liable for burning the teenage boy’s privates, was dismissed on the instructions from Minister of Public Security, Khemraj Ramjattan. Ramjattan had confirmed that Dolai was fired on his instructions. Regarding Inspector Narine Lall, Ramjattan had said that he could only be dismissed by the Police Service Commission (PSC). The officer was last stationed at the police canine division as the PSC did not acquiesce to calls for his dismissal.