United States renews security assistance to Saint Lucia
The government of the United States of America yesterday relaxed its stance against the Royal Saint Lucia Police (RSLPF) eight years ago, announcing a resumption of cooperation and assistance to some units of force.
U.S. Ambassador to St. Lucia Linda Taglialatela made the announcement in St. Lucia shortly after meeting with Prime Minister Allen Chastanet.
Stating that the resumption of cooperation and assistance to the police forces will begin immediately, Ambassador Taglialatela added that this came after a review that included extensive consultations between US government agencies.
“We have been able to identify a number of units within the RSLPF with which we can resume full cooperation and engagement,” Ambassador Taglialatela said. “This means that units such as the Navy and Immigration units will once again be able to take full advantage of the US security assistance that we plan to begin in the coming months,” she continued.
RSLPF units will be eligible for security assistance, including the multi-million dollar Caribbean Basin Regional Security Initiative. The United States Embassy in Barbados also confirmed that “certain security units in Saint Lucia could also benefit from professional military and technical training courses provided by the United States Department of Defense; State Partnership Program Exchanges with Florida National Guards and US Virgin Islands; and regular support to maritime maintenance through the United States Southern Command Field Technical Assistance Team.
The announcement, made during a press conference yesterday morning, was accepted with joy by Prime Minister Chastanet, who replied that “it is a step in the right direction”.
“We are encouraged by this announcement from the United States. I was heartened to hear that $ 500,000 that was set aside for our maritime unit will now be available to modernize the units we have now. The Marine Unit has played a vital role during the COVID period. This is good news, ”said Chastanet.
The United States and Saint Lucia have long cooperated to strengthen security in the region. Through USAID and the Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs, the United States has helped integrate juvenile offenders into society, provided training in conflict resolution at the community level, and helped harmonize guidelines on criminal sentencing in the region.
The United States Embassy (Bridgetown) noted in a statement that “the United States looks forward to expanding its cooperation and engagement with Saint Lucia, and an important part of this process is ensuring the full accountability of allegations of extrajudicial executions “.
The restrictions imposed on the police in 2013 resulted from a U.S. law called the Leahy Act, which was invoked when members of the force were recognized by the U.S. government for participating in a serious human rights violation. man.
The United States’ interest in Saint Lucia and its ability to implement the Leahy Police Act is due to the fact that Saint Lucia has received security assistance from the United States.
Part of the Leahy Law states that if it turns out that a military or paramilitary unit from a foreign country has been credibly involved in a serious human rights violation, then the United States should refuse. assistance to that unit until the host country government, that is Saint Lucia in this case, takes effective action to bring those responsible within the unit to justice.
The US imposition of Leahy Law on the RSLPF is entirely due to events emanating from a 2010-2011 police-led operation called Operation Restore Confidence (ORC), which resulted in the shooting deaths of 12 people by the police.
A local government investigation into the deaths did not result in the Leahy Law being lifted. The law was also not lifted when the government led by Kenny Anthony in 2014 called in a CARICOM team called IMPACS (Implementation Agency for Crime and Security) to investigate the shootings the United States considered to be. serious human rights violations.
There have been about three investigations into the ORC shooting deaths with nothing to come of it. The latest investigation was carried out by a team from the office of the Director of Public Prosecutions.
Over the years, the government of Saint Lucia has had talks with the United States government to find ways in which Saint Lucia could gain approval from the United States government to lift the Leahy Law.
The Leahy law is very specific. VOICE has learned that with the United States, whenever there is a case of extrajudicial execution, there must be a credible prosecution. The US government in 2016 reprimanded Saint Lucia for failing to make significant progress towards criminal prosecution.
This appears to have changed over time, with the resumption of assistance to both units within the force. The ax, however, still hangs over the officers implicated by the United States in the 2010/2011 shooting. The call for credible prosecution by the US government is still being made.