A statement from the US Embassy in Barbados has contradicted comments attributed to Saint Lucia’s Prime Minister, Allen Chastanet.
The comments were carried in a July 11 article in the Nation.
Chastanet was quoted as saying that 800 criminals were deported by the United States to Saint Lucia in one year.
However the US Embassy has said that United States government statistics indicate that the total number of deportees returned to Saint Lucia in the last five years was less than 100.
In 2015, there were only eight such cases, the US Embassy statement said.
On the issue of deportees, the statement asserted that any International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) member country has an obligation to accept its nationals who are deported for crimes committed in another country.
Saint Lucia is an ICAO member (as is the United States) and is thus subject to this obligation, it explained.
The statement also responded to claims Chastanet made in the Nation, asserting that the US government was slashing funding for security assistance in the region.
The Saint Lucia Prime Minister had told the publication that Washington was contributing to crime by deporting criminals back to their countries of origin.
“In fact, the United States, in partnership with Eastern Caribbean governments, is committed to strengthening security in the region,” the US Embassy statement said.
It noted that as evidence of this commitment, the United States government steadily increased funding for regional security since President Obama launched the Caribbean Basin Security Initiative in 2009.
Funding from the State Department’s Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement (INL) alone increased 31 percent between fiscal year 2015 and fiscal year 2016, it observed.
According to the US Embassy, in 2016, INL plans to spend approximately USD$3.94 million on equipment, infrastructure upgrades and law enforcement training to combat trafficking, enhance security, and strengthen justice systems in the Eastern Caribbean.
It disclosed that the United States is also contributing USD$8.25 million to a joint U.S.-Canadian project to refurbish the Regional Security System (RSS) Air Wing, which will improve RSS interdiction and search-and-rescue capabilities.
“The United States government has never wavered in its security commitment to the Eastern Caribbean and continues to invest heavily in building the capacity of our partner nations to make the region more safe and secure,” the statement said.