Opposition appeals to Governor General to not give assent to ODPP retirement age bill
The opposition has made a formal appeal to the Governor General and Attorney General to not give assent to or enact the amendment to the constitution that will result in the change in retirement age for the Director of Public Prosecutions.
The contentious bill was passed in both the upper and lower houses of parliament by the government, by way of majority vote, and despite objections from the opposition.
In a letter, shared with the media, lawyers representing Phillip Paulwell and Peter Bunting, indicated that their clients have serious concerns about the provisions in the bill.
The lawyers advised that if the legislation is enacted in its present terms, it would breach the provisions of the constitution.
Among the breaches cited, is that the bill circumvented the constitutionally prescribed procedure for the extension of tenure for a sitting DPP.
The bill would also be the exercise of a constitutional power for an improper purpose.
The lawyers noted that if the legislation is brought into force, and implemented, pending the determination of a claim, there would be considerable uncertainty within the ODPP, in the period during which the intended amendment would be in force.
Of particular concern, is the notion that officers, who would have been anticipating promotion, will potentially face up to 7 more years of the incumbent remaining in office and with no certainty as to the outcome.
This they claimed would result in heightened instability and attrition from what is a critical part of the criminal justice system.
They said given the significant systemic importance of the ODPP, the Governor General and Attorney General would agree that such a situation is undesirable.
They called on the Governor General, to not give assent or operationalize the proposed constitutional amendment relating to the DPP, until a determination of the impending litigation.
They pointed out that there is precedent for such an undertaking, in the matter relating to a constitutional challenge brought against legislation seeking to replace the Privy Council with the Caribbean Court of Justice.