Former top cop wants constitutional motion filed against government

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Former commissioner of police, Vere Browne is calling for a constitutional motion to be brought against the government to prevent the minister in charge of the police from having the power to transfer lawmen.
“We must utilise the legal machinery to the fullest, as is the Constitution in Antigua & Barbuda. I realise the government is trying to derail the Constitution with that Act that authorises the minister to transfer police officers. We have to take a constitutional motion against the government and let them know that the Constitution is the supreme law of the land and not what Parliament tries to rush through in one sitting,” Browne told the Snake Pit.
Browne was sent home in early 2015 on an indefinite suspension after the Antigua & Barbuda Labour Party took office some seven months earlier.
In his suspension letter, Browne was told that he failed to execute certain duties under his charge after heading the Royal Police Force of Antigua & Barbuda for several years.
The former top cop said the politicians should not be allowed to “strip” the Constitution to its benefit.
“All that the Government of Antigua & Barbuda has done now is have a law to substitute the action of Cabinet; it is still unconstitutional. When you look at our Constitution the Police Service Commission is not to be meddled with or interfered with in any type or form,” he said.
Browne promised, at a later date, to elaborate on the true reason why the law was “rushed through”.
The Lower House passed an amendment to the Police CAP 330, which would allow the Minister of Public Safety to transfer “gazetted officers” of the force to other departments within his portfolio.
The Act stated that the minister may, after consultation with the commissioner of police, direct the transferring of gazetted officers to any department of government for the purpose of advising the minister, policing policies, guidelines, research, planning and other security-related matters for the advancement of the duties and responsibilities of the force.
But the government agreed two days later that it had blundered when amendments were made to the Police Act, and Attorney General Steadroy “Cutie” Benjamin said it will be looked at again.
Benjamin said his decision was influenced by radio discussions on OBSERVER media’s Big Issues.

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