Weekes wants President’s Office to be given some degree of investigatory authority

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Weekes wants President’s Office to be given some degree of investigatory authority

Former President Paula-Mae Weekes said the President’s Office is not provided with any kind of investigative apparatus to look into the people the President is going to put forward for certain national roles.

In a pre-recorded interview which was aired on i95.5 FM’s Eye on Dependency programme on Sunday, she said the individual’s qualifications can be objectively verified, but the President must rely on third parties to find out about the character and conduct of the nominee.

“Which is not the most effective way because you might ask a person who is either very much in favour or very much against that individual (being considered). The information you get can be skewed, depending on the source of your information,” Weekes explained.

Weekes said the President’s office has had to “tiptoe” its way through information and make the best it could of it.

“When you consult, it gives the Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition their chance to do their little investigations, so the President has the benefit of its own investigations, anything that the Prime Minister or the Leader of the Opposition have to bring to the table to see whether or not this is a suitable candidate.

“The President, of course, is free not to follow the opinion of either of those consulting parties, but that would be foolhardy,” she said.

She said if the parties bring something and can demonstrate or say why, then it gives one pause for cause, allowing one to check and come to some decision.

Weekes said the only appointments the President has absolute discretion on are independent senators, lay assessors of the Equal Opportunity Tribunal and the sentencing commission.

“If persons understand these limits and that the President is a creature of statute (they would understand) the President can only legally do what is written down in law. The President cannot act outside of the law, in terms of legal unconstitutional duties,” Weekes said.