State Department cuts aid to St. Lucia police

The St. Lucia government says the decision by the United States to prevent members of the local police service from participating in training programs financed by Washington has nothing to do with the island’s decision to join the Venezuela-led Bolivarian Alliance of our People’s of America (ALBA).

Prime Minister Dr. Kenny Anthony, addressing supporters of the ruling St. Lucia Labor Party (SLP) following his recent visit to the United States, dismissed the position taken by the main opposition United Workers Party (UWP) on the matter.

“We speak to the embassy on issues on a regular basis, and nearly every time they speak to us, you know what they say? Prime Minister we know it is not your government that was in power when this happened. Whether it was not your government, the responsibility is now yours to clean it up,” Anthony said.

Last month, the United States officially informed the St. Lucia government that it had suspended assistance to the police department as a result of allegations of serious human rights violations.

“The Department of State has made a policy decision to withdraw training and material assistance to the Royal St. Lucia Police force due to credible allegations of gross human rights violations,” the U.S. State Department said in a statement.

Prime Minister Anthony in a nationwide radio and television broadcast, acknowledged the cut off, citing a U.S. law, known as the Leahy amendment, which bars aid to foreign security forces accused of human rights violations.

“The Department of State has made a policy decision to withdraw training and material assistance to the Royal St. Lucia Police force due to credible allegations of gross human rights violations,” the U.S. State Department said in statement. Anthony, in a nationwide radio and television broadcast, acknowledged the cut off, citing a U.S. law, known as the Leahy amendment, which bars aid to foreign security forces accused of human rights violations.

Anthony cited alleged violations of human rights incurred during the 2011 police crackdown, “Operation Restore Confidence,” in which 12 criminal suspects were fatally shot by local police. Anthony told supporters that the opposition was now engaged in shifting the blame and they were now using the island’s membership of ALBA as a scapegoat.

The 12 police killings were mentioned in the 2011 country report on human rights for St. Lucia released in May last year.

Anthony said despite taking measures to bring closure to the situation, St. Lucia’s reputation should not suffer a recurrence of such embarrassing fate and that those culpable must face the consequences.

“What occurred in St. Lucia is those five years must never be allowed to repeat itself. We must never be citied in any human rights report as committing human rights report as committing human rights abuses and ignoring the fundamental rules laid down by our Constitution.” he said.

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