OFFICIAL WEBSITE OF THE UNITED NATIONAL CONGRESS, The Official Opposition In The Republic Of Trinidad And Tobago.

Kamla: Gov’t Trying To Remove Oversight In Adjusting COP Legislation

Opposition Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar accused Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley of attempting to remove the oversight role in legislation which currently oversees the appointment of an acting Police Commissioner or acting Deputy Commissioner in situations where the Police Commissioner has to leave the country. 

In a statement, Persad-Bissessar referred to comments made by Dr Rowley on proposing adjustments to legislation to enable acting appointments in situations where the Police Commissioner goes out of the country, which would require a special majority to implement.

She said this would remove an oversight role played by elected representatives. 

“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. Ironically, he is introducing this anti-democratic step while simultaneously touting constitutional reform and open governance.”

Dr Rowley said the situation was “inconvenient”, as Parliament has to come together to appoint an acting Police Commissioner or Deputy Police Commissioner even if just for a couple of days while the Police Commissioner is away.

“The Prime Minister is quoted as saying, “I could tell you now this whole inconvenience of the Parliament having to approve an acting commissioner, if the commissioner goes out of the country, the attorney general is currently instructed and is under way in the next few weeks or days, as the case might be, we are going to come to the Parliament and we are going 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.”

Persad-Bissessar said:

“This planned move will deny Parliament the opportunity to analyse the nominees who are to act in the most senior police positions, especially at a time when Trinidad and Tobago is enduring a violent crime crisis. This will create an easier avenue for the appointment of political cronies of the ruling regime or incompetent nominees.”

“In October 2021, Anand Ramlogan S.C. took a matter to court to expose the then President Paula Mae Weekes as being ignorant of the law when she refused to forward the POLSC Merit List to Parliament. The court confirmed that all acting appointments for commissioner of police and deputy commissioners of police 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.

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

“The UNC will always support good law that increases efficiency, transparency and accountability. However, the Prime Minister’s plot is politically partisan, reckless, and irresponsible with an aim to impose on the country a commissioner of police submissive to him.”

Speaking to media on Tuesday, Dr Rowley said government is mandated to support Police Commissioner Erla Christopher in the execution of her duties – Christopher has come under fire from some in light of the country’s current crime situation. 

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