Public report on the improper retirement of a senior police officer – August 20, 1998 - Emalus Campus
Commissioner of Police, Mr. Luc Siba instigated the compulsory early retirement of 22 police officers including that of Mr. Louis Edwin Sahe who had been a member of the Police Force since 1974 and who had advanced to the rank of Deputy Commissioner for Northern Police Headquarters in Luganville.
The method used to retire Mr. Sahe involved a recommendation of Mr. Siba, presented orally to the Police Commission which endorsed it. The basis of Mr. Siba’s decision was his perception that Mr. Sahe was “not co-operative.” This is a matter for which disciplinary proceedings should have been initiated. These would have provided Mr. Sahe with an opportunity to answer any allegations. Mr. Siba knew this but instead chose to rid the force of Mr. Sahe by way of early retirement.
The Police Act provides for the discipline and early retirement of police officers “for the purposes of ensuring the renewal of holders of public offices within the Force.” The retirement of Mr. Sahe in this case was not for the requisite purpose and therefore unlawful. Mr. Siba’s role was found to constitute a breach of the Leadership Code.
The Police Service Commission, in acting on Mr. Siba’s recommendation acted on biased and irrelevant considerations. No minutes of the meeting at which the decision was made were available. Sometime later, minutes, suspected by the Ombudsman to have been fabricated, were produced. The administrative practice of the Police Service Commission was found to be defective. Further, section 28 of the Police Act was found to be defective in that it failed to provide either that reasons for compulsory retirement be provided or for an appeal against compulsory retirement.
Subsequent to Mr. Sahe’s compulsory retirement, it was recognized that there were no funds available to pay his severance package. Mr. Siba then purported to with-hold Mr. Sahe’s retirement. The Minister of Home Affairs, Mr. Charlie Nako then purported to “reinstate” Mr. Sahe. He had no statutory power to do this. His ignorance of the limit of his power was found to constitute a breach of the Leadership Code. Further, The Chairman of the Police Service Commission, Mr. Perei and the Police Commissioner breached the Finance Regulations in not ensuring funds were available when deciding to terminate Mr. Siba by way of compulsory retirement.
· That the powers of the Police Service Commission be clearly defined and documented.
· That guidelines for content and procedure within the Police Service Commission meetings be set and documented.
· That all Police Service Commission members be classed as Leaders under the Constitution.
· That Section 28 of the Police Act be reviewed and clarified.
· That the Members of the Police Service Commission, Mr. Perei, Mr. Mansale, Mrs. Crowby and Mr. Andeng and the former Police Commissioner not be appointed to positions that demand integrity and effective administrative skills.
Written by Edward R. Hill
UNDP Governance and Accountability Project
© Ombudsman of Vanuatu
Published here by University of the South Pacific, School of Law Web Site - www.vanuatu.usp.ac.fj