The New Today

Commentary

From RGPF to NNPPF

May the Good Lord help us in Grenada with our shameless dictator political leader, Khief, who is being aided and abetted by several sniveling and compromising cowards in high places. They are combining with him to thwart all of our constitutional and democratic safeguards and processes to turn Grenada into an “unofficial democratic dictatorship”.

Our Prime Minister has unashamedly said on divers occasions that as Minister of National Security, he has the right to give certain instructions to the Commissioner of Police (COP) regarding security. I would agree that he has the power, just as any minister has, according to section 67 of the Constitution of Grenada, to exercise “general direction and control” over issues of national security.

However, it is contrary to the principles of the Constitution of Grenada for the Minister of National Security to dictate to, or to exercise influence over the COP, in the exercise of the specific powers relating to police work, especially those powers that are specifically identified in the Constitution of Grenada.

Our COP needs to know that his high office allows him to exercise his discretion to even arrest and charge the said Prime Minister if the occasion arises, since his fealty and loyalty is meant to be to our Constitution. This power is only subject to the power of the Director of Public Prosecutions who has the overall power to start or bring to an end any prosecution.

Our COP needs to secure his own legacy, do his patriotic duty and show some guts, some intestinal fortitude, or else he will just become another tool in the toolbox of the little dictator, that he uses to nurture his insatiable thirst for power.

I raise these concerns in light of the Police (Promotions) Regulations (PPR) published in the Official Grenada Gazette on February 26, 2021 which, in my view are completely unconstitutional, unlawful, null and void and of no effect. It seems that we no longer have a Royal Grenada Police Force (RGPF) but we are heading for a New National Party Police Force (NNPPF).

The clear intention of this PPR is to effectively wrest control of the Rank and File of the RGPF from the COP and offer it to the Minister of National Security, Dr. Mitchell, the Prime Minister. Less we forget, about 10 years ago I had to sue this same Khief and his NNP on several occasions on the same issue of promotion of officers within the rank and file of the RGPF.

After retaining a Queens Counsel from Saint Vincent and obtaining sound legal advice, this NNP had to surrender the case and agree to pay damages which this Prime Minister has refused to pay up to this time. The words and promises of our Prime Minister mean nothing at all and this is why the teachers are now undertaking industrial action.

REMEMBER how he dishonoured a MOU, made just before elections in 2018 and used by him on the campaign trail, and when the teachers engaged in industrial action he deducted money from their pay at Christmas time! This matter is still in court and when the teachers win he will still not pay back the money!

So, when you hear these jokers come on TV and on social media platforms bashing the teachers, they are just hypocrites and non-patriots who are seeking a payday and favours from Keith Mitchell. Khief has done the very same thing on several occasions; in the case of Janin V CCC he did the same thing and the matter went all the way to the Privy Council, costing us several millions of dollars. These are indisputable facts! But hold on, Grenadians, Justice may be long delayed but it will come!

The History of Keith Mitchell
The history that I refer to here relates to the specific decisions and actions of our current Prime Minister with respect to the RGPF and the enforcement of our laws in Grenada in general.

I will itemize some of them below for the sake of simplicity.

(1). Notoriously influencing and attempting to influence the promotion process to ensure that officers that are seen to be loyal to him are promoted. The fast tracking of the promotion of the husbands of his ministers and blocking or attempting to block the promotion of independently-minded officers;

(2). Against sound legal advice, refusing to honour the substantive appointment of former COP Thompson, leading to litigation, embarrassment and financial loss to the people of Grenada;

(3). Using the PSC to ensure the promotion of unsuitable officers, who are his avid supporters, into the higher offices of the RGPF, one such infamous officer was then involved in a driver’s licence scam which has led to scandal, his leaving office and litigation;

(4). Maintaining persons as COP for many years after they have ceased to be effective and continuing to cause and maintain the appointment of his loyalists, who are way past the retiring age, to the post of COP;

(5). Boldly refusing to appoint the best suited and qualified officer as COP because in the words of the Prime Minister to that officer himself, the officer is “the friend of one of his biggest opposers”;

(6). Refusing to continue the appointment of the Deputy Director of Public Prosecutions after Khief’s own Head of Security was charged for sexual assault crimes.

I can go on and on, but the message is pellucid, this Prime Minister will do all that he can to control the ENTIRE RGPF. Grenadians, we are on very dangerous grounds and we need to take a stand now before it is too late!

The Supreme Law
I have reproduced the entirety of the relevant section of our constitution below:

106. Supreme law

This Constitution is the supreme law of Grenada and, subject to the provisions of this Constitution, if any other law is inconsistent with this Constitution, this Constitution shall prevail and the other law shall, to the extent of the inconsistency, be void.

  1. Police Force

(3) Subject to the provisions of section 91 of this Constitution, the power to appoint   persons to hold or act in offices in the Police Force of or below the rank of Sergeant (including the power to confirm appointments), the power to exercise disciplinary control over persons holding or acting in such offices and the power to remove such persons from office shall vest in the Chief of Police.

Contrary to what is cited in the PPR, Section 89 (3) of our Constitution does not give the COP the power to make regulations regarding promotion of officers in the rank and file of the RGPF. If the constitution intended that regulations should be published it would have said so clearly and unambiguously.

Compare the provisions of Section 89 (3) above to that of the Public Service Commission at Section 83 (13) below.

  1. Public Service Commission (PSC)

(13) The Commission may by regulation or otherwise regulate its own procedure and, with the consent of the Prime Minister, may confer powers or impose duties on any public officer or on any authority of the Government of Grenada for the purpose of the exercise of its functions.

Notice two (2) things about this comparison:

(1). For the PSC to confer its powers it needs the consent of the Prime Minister but that is not the case with the COP.

(2) The PSC is given the power to make regulations regarding its own procedure but the COP is not given that power.

Two reasons for these differences are clear and plain:

(1). Even though the PSC is meant to act independently, its control is only over the Public Service, an arm of the Executive of the country, while the powers of the COP are exercised over each and every person in Grenada, including the Prime Minister.

(2). The making of regulations will only serve to bind the hands of the COP and other persons holding that office in the future and our Constitution does not want that to happen. The person executing the office of COP must take on the full responsibility and have a free hand to operate in a manner to secure the entire nation; not to do political favours.

I further emphasise that the Constitution needs no assistance to confer or elaborate on any power that is given to any person. The reference to the Police Act, cited in the PPR, an ordinary piece of legislation, does not assist in legitimising the PPR in any way. Whatever is inconsistent with the Constitution, to the extent of the inconsistency, is null and void! Any power that is given by an ordinary piece of legislation that detracts from or is inconsistent with the letter, spirit and intent of the Constitution is null and void also.

Related:  Godless government and a giggling God

Specific details of the PPR

Section 3

(1) Regulations shall apply……

In so far as these regulations seek to fetter the exercise of the discretion and the exercise of the power of the COP they are null and void. In other words, you cannot lawfully force the COP to comply with any such regulations.

(2) When so required by the PSC, …

The process of promotion in the offices above the rank of Sergeant cannot be driven by the PSC. It must be driven by the COP only and then subject to the sanction of the PSC.

  1. Section 4

The Commissioner may…..

This a very clear breach of the intention of the Constitution. Once appointed to the post of COP, the Constitution vests the power of promotion and all the discretion therein to the holder of the office of the COP. This section seeks to limit the exercise of the powers of the COP and it is obviously null and void.

Further, this section removes the discretion from the COP and subjects it to such exercise of discretion by a body which is separate and distinct from the COP and the RGPF.

In addition to this, section 89 (3) of the Constitution gives no such power to the COP or to anyone else!

  1. Sections 5 and 6

The entirety of section 5 is baseless and empty. No such delegation is possible under section 89(3) of the Constitution and in fact, the issue of delegation of the powers of the COP is dealt with under section 89 (4) of the Constitution.

  1. Police Force

(4) The Chief of Police may, by directions given in such manner as he or she thinks fit and subject to such conditions as he or she thinks fit, delegate any of his or her powers under subsection (3) of this section to any other member of the Police Force.

This section is very clear! The phrase, “as he or she thinks fit” is twice repeated in this section to further emphasis the desire of the Constitution to make sure that the COP is not “boxed in” by regulations and other laws! Our Constitution deliberately wants our COP to take on the responsibility of securing our country and that he has a free and unfettered hand in doing so subject to section 91 of our Constitution!

Furthermore, the COP is given the power by the Constitution to delegate his powers “to another member of the Police Force”. The COP does not have the power to delegate any of his powers to any person or group of persons that are not members of the Police Force.

Here I am assuming that the term, “member” may be also interpreted as “members” in keeping with the general principle of the Interpretation Act, 1889, to which we go to provide aid in the interpretation of our Constitution.

  1. Sections 7 to 15

The contents of these sections, while they may be of some use, can have no binding effect with respect to limiting the exercise of the powers of the COP. Such contents are intended to be limited to internal documents for the exclusive use of the hierarchy of the RGPF and for the dispensation of information to the members of the RGPF for the purpose of ordering their conduct and expectations.

I liken them to Standard Operating Procedures, Governance Guidelines or Company Manuals in companies, which publish them as internal documents. This has no business in a Government Gazette. There is no obligation nor is there any authority for such publication!

These internal documents can surely be invoked if one seeks to make a case of unfair treatment being meted out to him or her, but such documents are definitely not meant for publication to the general public.

  1. Section 16

This section has absolutely no basis in law or otherwise! As mentioned above, the only fetter to the exercise of the powers of the COP is to be found at section 91 of the Constitution. Let me make it very clear that I am not saying that the COP can exercise his or her powers in an arbitrary or capricious manner, however, the Constitution does not envisage or contemplate any statutory basis for the challenge of the exercise of the powers of the COP set out in the Constitution, apart from that covered under section 91 of the Constitution.

In other words, it is improper to set up any other statutory fetter to the exercise of the powers of the COP. Any officer who feels aggrieved by a decision of the COP ought to follow what the Constitution says or carry the full burden of proving unfairness, capriciousness or arbitrariness in the actions of the COP, without being able to rely upon any regulation or law.

Section 91 of the Constitution provides the limits of any challenge to the exercise of the powers of the COP.

91. Appeals in discipline cases

(2) Parliament may provide that where the power to exercise disciplinary control over any member of the Police Force (including the power to remove him or her from office) has been exercised under section 89(3) or (4) of this Constitution by any member of the Police Force (hereinafter referred to as “the disciplinary authority”), an appeal shall lie to the Public Service Board of Appeal, at the instance of the member of the Police Force in respect of whom it was so exercised, from the decision of the disciplinary authority:

Provided that Parliament or (in the case of the exercise of a power under section 89(4)of this Constitution) the Chief of Police may require appeals to be made to the Chief of Police before they are made to the Public Service Board of Appeal.

A few things are very clear in this part:

i. Appeals are only allowed in discipline cases and so the officer using this provision has the burden of showing that the decision of the COP (if it is a decision not to promote him or her) was in effect an act of discipline, or the use of a disciplinary measure;

ii. Whatever is provided by Parliament, can only relate to the decision of a disciplinary authority only and it must be an act of Parliament, Parliament must provide or pass that avenue of appeal;

iii. This avenue must be subject to the Constitution and cannot be simply a regulation or such similar rule or document published by the COP.

Conclusion
It appears that our Prime Minister has gotten the taste for ruling the country by making laws in Cabinet, as he has done under the Covid crisis, and he does not want to stop. This PPR is a waste of time, space and money, and is not even worth the paper on which it has been written. It is simply a hollow and impotent attempt by Khief to take full control of the lower ranks of the RGPF, the top of which he already controls through his majority in the PSC.

Let us therefore now conclude this whole matter. I have advised before and continue to advise that this PPR, and the one that it “repealed”, has no proper constitutional or statutory authority and only serves to undermine the independent exercise of the powers of the COP. This is all an effort by our Prime Minister, Khief, the little would-be dictator, Mitchell to rob the COP of his independent powers and put them into the hands of other persons that he is able to influence by reason of their appointment.

Khief is trying to guarantee his own protection, but I say boldly, he will not always be Prime Minister and he will live a portion of his life when he cannot influence the significant decisions that are made in Grenada. Until then, My Sisters and Brothers, as Khief would say, justice awaits!

Cajeton Hood is a practicing Attorney-at-law who served as Attorney General during the 2013-18 rule of the New National Party government of Prime Minister Dr. Keith Mitchell