Political activist challenging extension of CoP Harewood-Christopher

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Political activist challenging extension of CoP Harewood-Christopher

Political activist Ravi Balgobin is challenging the legality of the tenure extension of Police Commissioner Erla Harewood-Christopher.

In a letter sent to Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley and Attorney General Reginald Armour yesterday, Balgobin’s lawyers said it was obvious the nomination of Harewood-Christopher by the Police Service Commission (PSC) could only have been valid for her remaining tenure as a member of the First Division of the TTPS, which is to say until she attained the mandatory retirement age by the law of 60 years.

Harewood-Christopher was appointed as this country’s first female CoP on February 3, 2023.
On May 9, the Minister of National Security announced that the Cabinet agreed and confirmed a one-year extension of her contract
On May 15th, she turned 60.

Balgobin’s letter added:
“Our client is concerned to ensure that the correct legal procedure was followed in making this extension in favour of Mrs Harewood-Christopher. He intends to challenge the legality of the extension order given the constitutional safeguards in place for the appointment of a CoP. He is concerned that the appointment is invalid and makes her “beholden to the Government” and this view has been shared by many others as reported in the traditional print media.”

“We have advised that the Commissioner of Police (Extension of Service) Order, 2023 is illegal, unconstitutional and invalid because Section 123 of the Constitution vests the Police Service Commission (PolSC) with sole and exclusive jurisdiction to appoint persons to hold or act in the office of CoP. It further sets out the procedure for appointment, which starts with the PolSC nominating persons and ends with the appointment of the nominee by the PolSC consequent upon the affirmative resolution of the House of Representatives.

“Assuming but not admitting section 75 is constitutionally valid and proper, Mrs Harewood-Christopher’s appointment beyond the age of retirement is clearly not in the public interest and her stint as CoP has been an abysmal failure. The murder rate has skyrocketed while innocent citizens continue to be robbed and murdered with impunity and the detection rate remains critically low.”

The lawyers said if the extension is unconstitutional and illegal, the ramifications are quite serious and there would have been a most serious breach of the Constitution and rule of law.

They said it would therefore be in both the state’s and public’s interest that the matter be the subject of adjudication as soon as possible.

“It is also, therefore, unfair to Mrs Harewood-Christopher, as she is not to blame for the illegality that vitiates the extension granted to her. It is not right that her service should be shrouded with constitutional and legal suspicion. Hence, this matter requires immediate resolution by the court.”

The attorneys are seeking a prompt response on or before 4 pm on May 31, “failing which, we have been instructed to file, as a matter fit for urgent hearing, our client’s claim in the High Court of Justice.”

“We, therefore, call upon you to immediately advise us of any change in your position in this matter,” the lawyers said.