President Irfaan Ali, PSC Chairman Paul Slowe
President of Guyana Irfaan Ali earlier in June Suspended the Police Service Commission which is headed by retired Assistant Commissioner of Police Paul Slowe and comprised of several other retired police officers.
The suspension was done pursuant to powers vested in the President under the Constitution of Guyana. However, Chairman of the PSC retired Assistant Commissioner of Police Paul Slowe says notwithstanding the “purported suspension”, the Commission will continue to execute its mandate.
Consequently, the Police Service Commission went ahead and release a list of promoted police officers which the government through the Attorney General has already said it would not be recognising.
“It is clear that your Excellency’s purported suspension of the Chairman and other members of the Commission is contrary to the Constitution…,” Slowe noted in a letter dated June 28 to President Ali. He said the suspension of the PSC is contrary to Article 225 of the Constitution because the question of removal from office has not been referred to a tribunal.
According to him, the President in his letter to the PSC, purports to suspend its members pending the establishment of a tribunal. Slowe, therefore, told the President, “Respectfully, your excellency has no such power. Clearly, one cannot refer a question to a tribunal that does not yet exist. The proposed suspension of the members of the Commission is, therefore, all premature, null, and void…”
At present, Slowe, in his letter, reminded the President that there is no Judicial Service Commission (JSC), with the last Commission having come to an end in 2017. Accordingly, Slowe said that for the President to appoint a tribunal to whom he may refer the question of removal a JSC should be constituted.
The letter by Slowe reads that the President in suspending the PSC did not act in accordance with the advice of the prescribed authority.
Under Articles 225 and 210(3), the PSC Chairman pointed out that the Prime Minister may advise the President to suspend him, but not to suspend the other members. “Rather, for the President to suspend these other members, the prescribed authority who must so advise him is the Chairman himself,” Slowe said, adding that he has not advised the Head of State to suspend the other members.
Having regards to the forgoing, Slowe tells President Ali that the PSC will continue to perform its constitutional mandate in respect to discipline and promotion of officers of the Guyana Police Force.
Should he not agree with this, Slowe further tells the President that “it is your prerogative to refer the matter to the courts for determination.” “The members of the Commission are confident that, should you do so, any court will arrive at the inevitable conclusion that Article 225 does not enable you to suspend the members in the manner you have purported to do,” the letter reads.
Slowe said the President’s suspension of the Commission was related to the Chief Justice’s ruling in the cases filed by Senior Superintendent of Police Calvin Brutus, and other officers challenging the promotions of senior officers made by the PSC in 2020.
The PSC Chairman pointed out that President Ali has flagrantly violated the letter, spirit, and intent of some of the most sacrosanct constitutional provisions and indeed his actions strike at the heart of Guyana’s constitutional democracy. He further pointed out that Presidents and Prime Ministers, as the case may be, have been impeached for far less in democratic countries.
Apart from Slowe, President Ali has suspended PSC Commissioners Michael Somersall, Clinton Conway, Claire Jarvis, and Vesta Adams- all retired Assistant Commissioners of Police.
They are all being represented by Attorney-at-law Selwyn Pieters.
Slowe and Conway are facing charges for allegedly defrauding the Police Force of $10 million- which reflects payments made to them and other serving and current officers to revise the Force’s Standing Order- which they have failed to do, according to the Special Organised Crime Unit (SOCU).