Defence Force promotions lawsuit goes to June

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

Justice Frank Seepersad – Jada Loutoo

A CHALLENGE by two senior Defence Force officers claiming they were bypassed for promotion will be heard in June.

Justice Frank Seepersad gave directions on Tuesday for the filing of affidavits and submissions in the lawsuit filed by Lieut Cols Jozette McLean and Dexter Metivier against Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) Darryl Daniel in February.

In a previous ruling, Seepersad removed the Defence Council, which had initially been sued, and instead included the Minister of National Security as an interested party, as he was told it was the minister and not the council, that is responsible for appointing officers to hold acting and permanent appointments of CDS and Vice Chief of Defence Staff (VCDS).

He also dismissed an injunction which stayed the appointment of a senior officer to act as VCDS.

As part of his decision, Seepersad stayed a decision to appoint Air Guard Wing Commander Kemba Hannays to act as VCDS and a decision to promote Hannays, Lieut Col Keston Charles and Commander Gosine and other officers junior in rank to McLean and Metivier to command various military formations.

On Tuesday, Seepersad, who had also granted the two officers permission to pursue their challenge, said there were still issues over the transfer and promotion of senior officers that require clarification.

“There is a need for certainty in the process. There is the perception that being transferred from one division to the next there is a fast-tracking of the system that can lead to higher ranks being available to those persons.

“This whole process should outline what is the fair, transparent and accountable process to be adopted going forward so that everyone has a fair chance to ensure upward mobility in the Defence Force.”

In her lawsuit, McLean, who is assigned to the Regiment, was promoted in 2018 and made acting Director of Strategic Logistics in 2020.

When she filed her lawsuit, she said CDS Daniel was set to demit office and the current VCDS Brigadier General Dexter Francis is set to retire in November.

That has since changed since Daniel recently received an extension allowing him to remain as CDS and the judge and the parties agreed there should be clarification on the promotion process.

McLean and Metivier claim they believed they would have been considered for promotion based on the upcoming vacancies, their qualifications and experience.

The two are represented by attorneys Arden Williams and Mariah Ramrattan; counsels for the Defence Force are Kerwyn Garcia and Rachael Theophilus, while Michael Quamina, Brent James and Inala Mohan represent the minister.