THE Special Select Committee (SSC) of Parliament set up to look at the process of nomination of a Commissioner of Police (CoP) and Deputy Commissioner will sit on Friday at 10 am at Tower D, Wrightson Road, Port of Spain. The Parliament website yesterday indicated this committee is to meet each Friday for the next four successive weeks.
The SSC, chaired by Minister in the office of the Attorney General, Fitzgerald Hinds, was set up on February 2, after queries over the Police Service Commission’s (PSC’s) selection process of a CoP to replace acting CoP Stephen Williams. SSC members are Hinds, Oropouche East MP Dr Roodal Moonilal, La Brea MP Nicole Olivierre, Health Minister Terrence Deyalsingh, Chaguanas West MP Ganga Singh, and Housing Minister Randall Mitchell.
Criminologist Prof Ramesh Deosaran recently assured Newsday the establishment of the SSC does not violate the PSC’s constitutional independence, but added, “The question of constitutional independence has to be interpreted. It is not an iron-clad independence.”
Deosaran said this “independence” is moderated in several ways.
Firstly, the PSC employs an external, private firm to recruit a CoP.
Secondly, he said Parliament already has oversight on all service commissions including the PSC.
“We have several precedents of service commissions appearing before joint select committees – the Public Service Commission, Teaching Service Commission and the PSC.” He recalled facing a JSC hearing as former PSC head. Deosaran added (thirdly), “We had to appear and explain our annual reports.” Reiterating that the SSC does not violate the PSC’s qualified independence, he said, “Parliament may ask for an explanation and for information, but it should not move to change the decisions of the Police Service Commission. That’s where the independence comes in.”
However, he said that since 1962 the service commissions have not been functioning effectively, and so need further expert analysis by judicial review or other means. The oversights on any service commission are set out in section 66 of the Constitution. Section 66A says a joint select committee (JSC) shall monitor them.
Section 66B says, each service commission must give the President (and Parliament), a yearly report on “its administration, the manner of the exercise of its powers, its methods of functioning and any criteria adopted by it in the exercise of its powers and functions.”