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Nov 23, 2017

SolGen Promises Training for Top Public Officers at Public Service Commission

Solicitor General Nigel Hawke was actually the second of two witnesses called on Wednesday by the Senate Special Select Committee. On Wednesday morning, the senators held a private, in-camera session with Kent Clare, the current Director of the Financial Intelligence Unit. In the afternoon session, Hawke was asked to comment on the state of affairs of the Public Services Commission, which is tasked with determining discipline on various infractions by public officers outside of the security forces. Hawke said that more training is needed for both the members of the Commission and those tasked with presenting cases before it. With the advent of legal representation, he said more care needs to be taken with case management and presentation.


Nigel Hawke

Nigel Hawke, Solicitor General
“I think at a general level, and I can perhaps take some blame for it as the officer solicitor general, I think what needs to happen is a lot more institutional training and the building of capacity in two instances even in relation to training for the commissioners or the public services commission in terms of the protocols that should be adopted, how cases and hearings should be conducted, and also more importantly public officers presenting cases before the commission. I’ve seen some instances where unfortunately you had a person who is bringing the case before the commission also presenting the case, and that is a strict no-no. So, I think we all have to play a part and I would take some of the blame in the sense where we need to get to a level where I think if we are able to lift our level of capacity building and training I think we can get there. The general challenge for me, I think, what I’ve seen, is that we need to concentrate on building our capacity up to middle management level. I’m talking about AO’s [administrative officers] because these are the persons who normally go and present cases before the Public Services Commission and I’ll just give you an example. Not directly from any case just an anecdotal example. If you are going before the Public Services Commission you need to make sure your case is properly put together. So, if you are charging someone for bringing the Public Service into disrepute because perhaps you were drinking and driving, that officer needs to know what are the ingredients of that disciplinary action that they need to establish. They need to marshal the type of evidence that they need to put together before the Commission. It can’t be that you go with just a write up of a paragraph of what somebody says and then its torn to pieces. So, I think what it really needs is more training and building of capacity and I think we can get there easily.”

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