After insisting that it was a legal appointment, Government appears to have finally conceded that the appointment of a second Deputy Commissioner of Police is not currently provided for in law. The administration has started the process of amending the legislation to change that.
And Opposition Senator Caswell Franklyn, the man who led the charge in questioning the illegality of the appointment, continues to blast the Government’s “shoddy” decision-making.
On Friday – more than a month after former assistant Police Commissioner Oral Williams was appointed Deputy Commissioner, Parliament published a Bill to provide for two Deputy Police Commissioners by amending the Police Act, Cap 167.
A copy of the Police (Amendment) Bill, 2020, which was obtained by Barbados TODAY confirmed that section six of the Police Act will replace the words “a Deputy Commissioner” with the words “two Deputy Commissioners”.
“The Deputy Commissioners of Police shall act as assistants to the Commissioner in the performance of his duties in respect of the Force and may, during the absence or incapacity of the Commissioner or when so authorised by him, do or suffer any act or thing which may by law be done or suffered by the Commissioner,” outlines an amendment to section 9.
It is still unclear when the amendments will be laid in the Lower Chamber.
The development follows an extended public debate championed by Senator Franklyn, who vehemently condemned the senior public officer’s “illegal” appointment and accused the Government of forcing citizens to finance the salary for a non-existent position.
Officials from the People’s Party for Democracy and Development (PdP) as well as the Democratic Labour Party (DLP) also added their voices to the criticism levelled at the current administration.
Section 6 of the Police Act currently stipulates that the police force shall consist of a commissioner, a deputy commissioner and such number of assistant commissioners, superintendents, inspectors, subordinate police officers and constables, respectively, and does not exceed the number provided by any order made under Section 2 of the Civil Establishments Act.
After refusing to engage in a “tit-for-tat” with Senator Franklyn in early May, Attorney General Dale Marshall conceded that the appointment of a second Deputy Commissioner was not consistent with existing legislation and proposed to facilitate the change through the Houses of Parliament as soon as possible.
But days later, Prime Minister Mia Mottley insisted that the appointment was legal as she referenced an order that was laid in both Houses of Parliament back in March.
Reacting to the new amendments, Senator Franklyn maintained his position that the appointment should never have been contemplated as it smacked of corruption and abuse of power by a Government with an overwhelming parliamentary majority.
He charged that the amendment, which has been back-dated to May 2019 would qualify Assistant Commissioner Williams to receive pension at the highest level.
“What they are doing is picking out their friends and promoting them so that they would benefit in their retirement. That is nonsense,” said the outspoken senator.
“They cannot continue to break the law and then use their overwhelming majority in the House to fix things. That is wrong. There is no justification for it and I think that instead of piloting this Bill, the AG should be handing in his resignation,” he added.
Franklyn was adamant that the decision to amend the bill did not provide vindication for him but expressed hope that more Barbadians would come forward to question the actions of their Government.
“Regardless of what they said or did, I knew I was right. It is not a personal triumph for me and I don’t live my life looking for their approval, but they need to be sharper. They are too shoddy,” Franklyn stressed.
“I also want the people in this country to speak out against these abuses of power. I don’t just want one or two people saying things, I want people to rise up and let them know that we are not stupid and that Government cannot abuse its authority and get away with it. Let them know that there will be a price to pay if they continue in this way,” he added.
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