Expressing the confidence that the vast majority of members of the Royal Saint Lucia Police Force (RSLPF) are professional and law abiding officers not connected in any way to alleged gross violations of human rights, United States Ambassador to Barbados and the OECS, Linda S. Taglialatela, Friday announced that her country will resume full cooperation with and assistance to a number of local police units.
Taglialatela said the move follows years of review that included consultations across US government agencies and close coordination with Saint Lucia.
“This means that those units, such as the marine and immigration units will again be able to enjoy the full benefits of the United States Security assistance that we are planning to begin as we speak,” the US Diplomat told a news conference here.
She said the units will be eligible for security assistance like that provided to the United States Caribbean Basin Security Initiative which seeks to reduce illicit trafficking in the region, advance public safety and promote social justice.
She told reporters that some Saint Lucian security units may also benefit from other security assistance programmes.
In this regard, she mentioned the professional military education and technical training courses provided through the United States Department of Defence, state partnership programme exchanges, and regular maritime maintenance support through the United States Southern Command technical assistance and field teams.
“This is only the first step,” she explained, adding that the US looks forward to continuing to expand cooperation and engagement.
However, Taglialatela asserted that an important part of that process is to ensure full accountability on allegations of extra-judicial killings.
“We continue to call for the credible investigation and accountability in these cases in order to broaden cooperation to all units,” the US Diplomat stated.
The US Department of State announced in 2013 a policy decision to withdraw training and material assistance to the RSLPF due to ‘credible allegations’ of gross human rights violations.
The sanctions were imposed under the Leahy Amendment to the Foreign Assistance Act (FAA), commonly referred to as the ‘Leahy Law’.
The allegations of extra judicial killings by some members of the RSLPF arose out of several fatal police shootings in 2010-2011 during an anti-crime offensive dubbed ‘Operation Restore Confidence’.