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MPs also cross swords over issue

Published: 
Thursday, June 7, 2018

Split views continue in Parliament on the Police Service Commission’s process to select a police commissioner.

There was an unsafe, unsound and unsatisfactory procedure by the PSC in the process, People’s National Movement MP Fitzgerald Hinds, who chaired a special Parliament team which investigated the process, told Parliament yesterday.

“It ought not, therefore, on that basis, to stand, perhaps because of all of its flaw and imperfections, nothing good can come of it,” Hinds said.

However, another member of the Parliament team which examined the PSC’s handling of the matter—Opposition MP Ganga Singh—argued, “The team’s report didn’t refer to the question of being ‘unsafe’, ‘unsound’ or ‘unsatisfactory’. Mr Hinds is unable to conclude a matter in which it’s clear the team didn’t find anything illegal, bad faith, mal fides, conflict of interest or any bias.”

The split views from Government and Opposition MPs were aired during debate of the team’s report on the PSC’s procedures.

The team headed by Hinds was mandated in February to examine the PSC procedure to select a commissioner and deputy commissioner of police. Following that process, DCPs Deodat Dulalchan and Harold Phillips were nominated for the post of CoP and DCP respectively. But Government and the Opposition raised concerns about the process, before mandating a special select team of MPs to examine it.

When the team’s report was delivered last month, Opposition MPs on the team— Singh and Roodal Moonila—disagreed with it, doing their own report. In yesterday’s debate, Hinds said no minority report was part of the report since no member indicated an intention to do one.

On the PSC’s management of the selection process, Hinds said the PSC not only directed but participated “intimately in the assessment process in a most overwhelming way” in scoring at crucial stages of assessment. But he said the team found nothing in judgement and legal opinion documents on the issue, which authorised the PSC to participate as “intimately” as it did. He said PSC’s decision to actively participate in assessments should have been stipulated at the start of the process with applicants being notified.

He said the PSC came up with two order of merit lists which differed from the list arrived at the end of the assessment and the committee felt its prerogatives and choices exercised were “incautious and perhaps reckless.”

Hinds said two PSC members had prior working relationships with two candidates and admitted to a risk of bias.

One PSC member who took no part in assessments, who noted, came in at the final stage and contributed to the decision by scoring on the basis of assessment.

Hinds questioned how that could be done if the PSC commissioner hadn’t interfaced with candidates.

However, Singh said Hinds exaggerated the PSC’s participation and PSC members Anthony Franklin and Dinanath Ramkissoon’s participation totalled 12 per cent only. Singh said the PSC’s autonomy must be recognised since service commissions answered only to the courts and MPs couldn’t judge them.

“MP Hinds is being judge, jury and executioner,” Singh said.

Hinds said the vetting process was also poor with no polygraph testing.

But Singh said the Director of Personnel Administration advised the PSC against polygraphs since it should have been in guidelines for applicants and inserting it could give rise to legal action against PSC. The DPA advised that a constitutional amendment should cater for this in future. He pointed out that Hinds suppressed the DPA’s advice.

Hinds said security vetting for some applicants led to a report from the Strategic Services Agency (SSA) and “other information” coming to light. The Police Complaints Authority (PCA) had also recommended to the PSC that disciplinary charges be laid against one applicant and a judge commented adversely on another.

Hinds countered that the PSC didn’t take up either situation. He said there was also no executive recruitment expert among PSC members and candidates weren’t told they were being assessed for both jobs.

“Unacceptable and perhaps disadvantageous for some, and some who scored less at assessment emerged higher on the merit list than those who did otherwise,” Hinds said.

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