Georgetown, Guyana – (August 9, 2018) President David Granger, today, said that the Guyana Police Force (GPF) can only fulfil its mandate effectively if it is commanded by a corps of officers who are competent, committed and uncorrupted. The President further noted that the Force’s most senior officers must be men and women of proven independence, integrity and intelligence and must be able to enjoy the trust of the public.
The Head of State was at the time speaking at the swearing-in ceremony for the members of the Police Service Commission (PSC), which will pave the way for the appointment of a substantive Commissioner of Police. The Commission will make recommendations for the post to the President, who will then consult with the Leader of the Opposition.
President Granger said the Police Force is the principal agency of the State concerned with enforcing the law and the Constitution of Guyana, at Article 197 (A) states: “The Police Force established under the Police Act shall function in accordance with the law as the law enforcement agency of the State responding to the daily need to maintain law and order by suppressing crime to ensure citizens are safe in their homes, the streets and other places.” The Police Act, at Section 3 (2), tasks the Guyana Police Force with: “…the prevention and detection of crime, the preservation of law and order, the preservation of the peace, the repression of internal disturbance, the protection of property, the apprehension of offenders and the due enforcement of all laws and regulations with which it is directly charged…”
However, the Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces said that the public trust in the Police Force and the need for Security Sector Reform have become more urgent following the presentation of the Report into the circumstances surrounding the killing of eight miners at Lindo Creek on or about 21st day of June 2008, commonly referred to as the Report of the Lindo Creek Commission of Inquiry.
“That Report raised troubling questions about the role of the Defence and Police Forces during the ‘troubles’ and the reticence of the political administration of the day to provide useful evidence to the Commission of Inquiry into the massacre. The ‘troubles’ was a dark period in our country’s history. The inability of the Police to arrest the outbreak of criminal violence quickly led to the emergence of so-called ‘phantom’ death squads. The ‘troubles” revealed, also, how drug lords had infiltrated the Force. The ‘troubles’ exposed the influence of a small but influential group of rogue officers. It revealed the need for more careful selection of officers and improved intelligence-gathering. The Report’s recommendations will be acted upon in due course. The days of concealing security sector mistakes and misdeeds are over. The Force’s officers will be held accountable for the consequences of their actions and for the instructions they issue to their subordinates,” he said.
In this regard, the President noted that the Constitution, at Article 212 (1), vests the Commission with: “…power to make appointments to any offices in the Police Force of or above the rank of Inspector, the power to exercise disciplinary control over persons holding or acting in such offices and the power to remove such from office…,” which must be exercised prudently.
Noting that this is an important function in the present security situation and with Security sector reform being pursued, President Granger said that it is expected that future appointees of the Force will vigorously carry out the approved reforms, which aim at restoring public trust in the Force, reinforcing the Force’s capability to fight crime and promoting men and women of the highest calibre to become officers.
“The Commission’s independent status can contribute to enhancing public trust in the Force, to boosting the morale of officers and to ensuring the efficacy of law enforcement. The Commission’s powers of promotion can re-establish the principle of merit in the advancement of Officers. The Commission’s powers of discipline and dismissal, applied fairly, can encourage probity and discourage misconduct. The Commission’s support for the objectives of security sector reform can ensure that there will be, within the Force, a corps of senior officers committed to effective police administration, operations, investigation and intelligence-gathering, ensuring sound leadership to subordinate officers and constables and evincing the virtues of intelligence and integrity and being capable of securing the public trust. The appointment of the Commission, therefore, is essential to Police Force efficiency and to state security,” he said.
The Constitution, subject to Article 211(1), vests the President with the authority to appoint the Commissioner of Police and every Deputy Commissioner of Police after meaningful consultation with the Leader of the Opposition and Chairperson of the Police Service Commission after the Chairperson has consulted with the other members of the Commission. President Granger said that it is his intention to ensure that these consultations are held.
“I intend to engage in meaningful consultations with both the Chairperson of the Police Service Commission and the Leader of the Opposition with respect to the appointment of a substantive Commissioner of Police as soon as practical. Consistent with my Government’s plan for security sector reform, I shall appoint the Commissioner and four Deputy Commissioners of Police,” he said.
Speaking with media operatives at the conclusion of the event, the President said that he expects that the Police Commissioner and the four deputies would be persons of integrity, intelligence and impartiality.
“I am looking at integrity, intelligence and impartiality. I don’t give orders to the Commissioner of Police but I want someone who is unbribable, someone who is intelligent and someone who is committed to carrying out the programmes of the Security sector reform, someone who has the initiative and who can generate public trust. Guyana needs a Commissioner they can look up to and I expect he is going to be supported by four deputy commissioners,” he said.
The Constitution, at Article 137, mandates the establishment of a Police Service Commission. The National Assembly, on June 25, 2018, approved the names of four nominees namely Mr. Paul Slowe (Chair), Ms. Vesta Adams, Mr. Clinton Conway and Ms. Claire Jarvis to the Commission while consultations were held on July 19, 2018, with the Leader of the Opposition on the appointment of the Chairperson of the Commission. The fifth member, in accordance with the Constitution, is the Chairperson of the Public Service Commission, Mr. Michael Sommersall.