Police Commissioner Vernon Francois has claimed that the Royal St. Lucia Police Force was invited to take part in the recent US “Trade winds” military exercise, despite having not participated in the event.
Francois told a media conference recently that he has correspondence to prove that the police force was invited and its non-attendance was in no way in relation to a ban.
According to him, the military exercise had some fiscal issues, which needed to be ironed out and it was a last-minute rush to facilitate the training. However, it was widely reported that St. Lucia was excluded from a list of countries that participated in the June 1-10 multi-national military exercise in Antigua.
A statement from the United States Embassy in Barbados did not mention St. Lucia, which hosted the event last year, as taking part in this year’s exercise. The paramilitary training brought together more than 300 law enforcement officers, military personnel and government representatives from the Caribbean. Seventeen partner nations took part in the initiative.
Tradewinds focuses on increasing regional co-operation to counter illicit trafficking and build the capacity of participating nations to plan and execute complex multi-national security operations.
Last year, the United States suspended assistance to the Royal St Lucia Police as a result of allegations of serious human rights violations which occurred between 2010 and 2011.
The allegations included claims of extra-judicial police slayings which the government is currently investigating with the help of a team of police officers from Jamaica.
A senior law enforcement official said the US decision will result in “serious gaps” in the technical and management training given to members of the Royal St Lucia Police Force, especially at a time when senior officers are either resigning or retiring. According to the official, those gaps will become evident in the long-term.