Kamla Declines Meeting With Rowley On Appointment of Police Commissioner

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PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad – Leader of the main opposition United National Congress (UNC), Kamla Persad-Bissessar has declined an invitation by Prime Minister Dr. Keith Rowley to discuss the parliamentary appointment of a police commissioner.

The prime minister’s request for the meeting was issued on Tuesday. He indicated due to matters surrounding the selection process a meeting was needed before it was received by Parliament.

He wrote: “Given what is now awash in the public domain and the requirement for the process to be now received by Parliament it is my view that we should have a discussion on this assignment before it comes to the Parliament floor.”

However, in a release issue on Thursday, Persad-Bissessar said the meeting will not be productive at this time.

She noted that the present constitutional arrangements do not allow the Government or the Opposition to compel the Police Service Commission to disclose the details of the process which was engaged in selecting the proposed nominees.

She said that meaningful dialogue could only occur if there is full disclosure to both Government and Opposition of the details of the process employed by the commission in selecting the proposed nominees.

She said: “Whilst the Opposition fully respects the independence of the Police Service Commission and the requirement of ensuring it is insulated from political interference in the performance of its functions, the Opposition is of the view that any meaningful dialogue between Government and Opposition on this matter in the present circumstances can only be achieved if there is full disclosure to both Government and Opposition of the details of the process that was employed by the Commission in selecting the proposed nominees.”

According to the Trinidad and Toabgo Express, Persad-Bissessar said the Opposition understands the importance of the appointment of a Commissioner of Police, where the process should be “fair, transparent, open and subject to the highest degree of scrutiny” so that the public would have confidence in the Commissioner.

However, the fiasco regarding the top contender has brought forward more questions than answers regarding the process employed and the proposed nominees.

Given this country’s constitutional provisions, she was reported as saying neither the Government or the Opposition has the power to require the Police Service Commission to disclose details of the selection process for the proposed nominees and how they arrived at their decision.

Therefore, Persad-Bissessar said a meeting between both parties “will achieve little if anything at all.” She said the details of this process by the Police Service Commission, for full disclosure can only be achieved if both the Government and Opposition approach the President with a suggestion that this matter is of public’s interest.

Persad-Bissessar also recommended that a Special Select Committee of the House of Representative should be established to inquire and report on the matter.

She said: “Such a Committee will be empowered under the Standing Orders of the House of Representatives to summon the Commission before it and to secure the disclosure of all relevant material that was considered by the Commission in arriving at its decision. In order to expedite the process, a fixed reporting timeline can be determined, and relevant resources made available to the Committee.”

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