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Opposition Leader: Plan To Bypass Parliament On Acting Cop ‘Anti-Democratic’

An anti-democratic bill.

That’s how Opposition Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar has described the Government’s plan to change the regulation for approving acting appointments for Police Commissioner. The bill will require Opposition support for passage.

“The Prime Minister is attempting to arbitrarily remove the oversight role played by our elected representatives in the examination of acting appointments for Commissioner and Deputy Commissioners of Police,” Persad-Bissessar said yesterday.

“If Prime Minister Keith Rowley can regularly allocate time for feteing and golfing, surely attending Parliament to debate the issue of acting appointments for CoP and appointments of DCPS cannot be an ‘inconvenience’.”

She commented after Rowley spoke about the “inconvenience” of Parliament having to approve an acting CoP if the Commissioner goes out of the country.

He said there were plans to “change that regulation to prevent the Parliament or, we will try to prevent the Parliament from having to approve an acting (appointment) for a day or two or for whatever period”.

Rowley said he hoped Members of Parliament would give the required special majority vote.

Persad-Bissessar claimed the bill on acting CoP appointments would “deny Parliament the opportunity to analyse the nominees who are to act in the most senior police positions, especially at a time when T&T is enduring a violent crime crisis.”

She added: “This will create an easier avenue for the appointment of political cronies of the ruling regime or incompetent nominees. Ironically, he is introducing this anti-democratic step while simultaneously touting constitutional reform and open governance.”

The Opposition Leader pointed out that in October 2021 the court confirmed that all acting appointments for CoP and DCPs must go to Parliament to be approved.

“Keith Rowley sat on this for over two years and during that period, was content or saw no reason to amend the law,” she said.

“The government’s agenda is clear—they’re now moving to appoint a handpicked DCP who would act in replacement of Erla Christopher as CoP when she’s inevitably replaced for chronic non-performance.”

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