Prime Minister Philip J. Pierre’s Press Secretary Maundy Lewis has responded to the opposition United Workers Party (UWP) regarding participation by the Royal Saint Lucia Police Force (RSLPF) in Tradewinds 2022.
Lewis says that the UWP government did nothing to get officers back into US training.
Tradewinds is a U.S. Southern Command-sponsored combined joint exercise conducted with partner nations.
The aim is to enhance the ability of defense forces and constabularies to combat crime, provide humanitarian and disaster assistance and strengthen cooperation.
The opposition has taken credit for the RSLPF’s inclusion in this year’s exercise after some ten years, citing the then UWP administration’s commitment to resolving IMPACS and having the Leahy Law lifted.
“The former UWP administration worked tirelessly to restore Saint Lucia’s relationship with the United States Government which led to the announcement in June 2021 by the United States Ambassador during a visit to Saint Lucia that the United States would resume security cooperation and assistance to units within the Royal Saint Lucia Police Force (RSLPF) with immediate effect,” according to an opposition statement.
But the PM’s Press Secretary says the announcements by the US Embassy and the UWP administration concerning training for the Immigration Unit and the Police Marine Unit were a direct result of the efforts of US Military Liaison Office at the US Embassy in Barbados and the State Department.
Lewis explained that the Police had been in dialogue with the US officials for about two years.
“The Special Services Unit and the rest of the Force continue to be subjected to the Leahy Law and “training” is selective and restricted to subject matter, expert exchanges (SMEEs) and exercises,” she wrote.
By way of example, Lewis cited the current Tradewinds Exercise taking place in Belize and a few more calendared for the coming months.
According to the Prime Minister’s Press Secretary, the Saint Lucia Labour Party (SLP) administration and the RSLPF continue to dialogue with senior officials within the US Government to address the outstanding issues.
Lewis indicated that those issues are not directly related to the police officers involved in the actual operations.
But she observed that they are significant enough to warrant further investigation and implementation of corrective procedural measures to ensure that they do not repeat themselves in the future.