Senate sends altered Police Bill back to Lower House

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The opposition has argued that while fresh alterations to the contentious Police Amendment Bill 2017 have solved one instance of unconstitutionality, the legislation’s attempt to sanction the unilateral transfer of officers to posts outside of the police force may still offend the Constitution.
Opposition Senator Chester Hughes raised the point in the Senate, yesterday, when an altered version of the Bill was ultimately passed and returned to the Lower House for approval.
Hughes said the Bill attempts to grant new powers to the Police Service Commission (PSC) — to transfer officers to posts outside of the Royal Police Force of Antigua & Barbuda (RPFAB) – powers he argued that the Constitution of Antigua & Barbuda does not grant.
He then went on to stress that if officers are transferred to posts outside of the RPFAB, they will fall under the ultimate direction of a minister and or a permanent secretary – individuals who do not have the constitutional authority to direct police officers.
“The Constitution gives the Police Service Commission certain powers that they can operate only within the framework of the police force,” the senator said.
Section 7 of the most up-to-date version of the Police Amendment Bill as passed by the Senate on Tuesday states: “The commission may on the recommendation of the commissioner and after consultation with the minister approve the appointment, secondment, transfer or postings as the case may be of a gazetted police officer to a position in the ministry under which the police department falls…”
Section 105 of the Constitution states inter alia: “The power to appoint persons to hold or act in offices in the Police Force (including appointments on promotion and transfer and the confirmation of appointments) and to remove and exercise disciplinary control over persons holding or acting in such offices shall vest in the Police Service Commission.”
(More in today’s Daily Observer)

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