Unconstitutionally removed – Retroactively

With the intensification of the advocacy and debates for the CCJ as the final appellate court continuing, citizens of this tri-island state are being given the opportunity and exposure to the administration of justice in Grenada and the wider OECS.

The debate on the CCJ is good and provides an avenue for citizens to learn about the administration of justice while keeping abreast with developments touching and concerning the Constitution.

The intention therefore is not to discredit the CCJ. It is only to emphasise that governments, as well as the citizens, are expected to operate within the framework of the legal system and to adhere to the Constitution as the supreme law of the land and the laws enacted by the Parliament. Maintaining law and order and protecting the rights of citizens are the reasons for the existence of governments.

When government does not adhere to the Constitution and the laws, and blatantly disregards judgments of the local and regional courts, as in the case involving the former Cabinet Secretary, it destroys the confidence that we the citizens have in the laws and institutions of the state.

It is unbelievable that armed with the ruling by the OECS Court of Appeal, which was delivered on September 22, 2017, that the Chief Personnel Officer in the Public Service Commission saw it fit to pen a letter dated July 24, 2018 to the former Cabinet Secretary advising of her dismissal from the public service effective February 14, 2014 with no reference to entitlements and compensation.

This action by Her Excellency the Governor General and of the PSC raises questions as to whether there has been any precedent of removing someone from office retroactively. It is bad enough to remove an officer unconstitutionally but when this is done retroactively it is mind boggling. How much more cynical can the Authorities become in the administration of justice?

While intensively following the ongoing debates on the CCJ, I heard Dr. Francis Alexis Q.C. and renowned constitutional expert in the region respond to a question that referred to the actions taken to obtain compensation in the Gairy case.

What Dr. Alexis said may be true, however, it should be noted that the two cases are not equal. In the case of the former Cabinet Secretary there is, to date, no commitment by the Government to honour the decision of the OECS Court of Appeal.

Instead, the former senior public officer was unceremoniously dismissed from the public service without a compensation package or a commitment to compensate.

The former senior public officer therefore requested that the letter which did not comply with the Constitution and laws of Grenada be retracted and reissued to reflect such conditions and to cater for her constitutional entitlements, compensation and court awarded damages which to date have not been rectified.

After over 30 years of public service, a senior public officer who is duly qualified for retirement benefits, is retired by Her Excellency the Governor General with no terminal benefits as required by the Constitution and laws of Grenada.

Despite the public awareness, the Government has maintained a firm position of noncommitment to compensate. I maintain that the Government has blatantly violated the Constitution of Grenada, has refused to adhere to the decision of the OECS Court of Appeal and has displayed a lack of respect for the former senior public officer.

Simultaneous with the letter of dismissal from the Public Service, the Government was obligated to provide the former Cabinet Secretary with the compensation package based on the Constitution and the laws of Grenada and the OECS Court of Appeal ruling. This action by the Government questions its moral authority to advocate for reforms of the legal system. The Government must lead by example.

As the debate on the CCJ continues, I note the reference by Attorney-at-law Ruggles Ferguson to the complicated procedures for enforcement of legal rulings. I wish to inform that the lack of enforcement amounts to a lack of justice and justice delayed is justice denied. In your advocacy Mr. Ferguson please remember this maxim.

I am in possession of the letter from the Public Service Commission to the former Cabinet Secretary which does not make any reference to the compensation package or an invitation to discuss the compensation package.

When removed (constitutionally or unconstitutionally) from the Public Service, public officers should not have to beg for their entitlements and compensation. I am therefore respectfully asking the Government to be mindful of its obligations to public officers and provide the former Cabinet Secretary with the compensation package based on the Constitution and the laws of Grenada and the OECS Court of Appeal.

The decision of the Government has repercussions for us all as public officers and the citizens we serve. It is therefore important that all take note of the outcome of this matter.

Concerned Public Servant

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