Local Police left out of US Training Exercise Again!
By Toni Nicholas
With the issue of IMPACS still unresolved it came as little surprise that members of the Royal Saint Lucia Police Force have not been invited to participate in this year’s Tradewinds exercise funded by the United States of America.
A press release from the US Embassy in Barbados this week indicates that “beginning Sunday, June 5, military and security forces from Caribbean nations will join the United States, Canada, France, and the United Kingdom for maritime and internal security and disaster response training in Grenada as part of Exercise Tradewinds 2016.”
According to the embassy statement this year’s Exercise Tradewinds will be conducted in three phases: Phase I will include maritime and land operations, and will take place in Grenada through June 14; Phase II will include maritime and land operations, including U.S. Marines, and will take place in Jamaica from June 20-28; Phase III, a Key Leader Seminar, will be conducted July 20-22 in Miami for key stakeholders and decision makers from the region.
“Exercise Tradewinds supports the Caribbean Basin Security Initiative (CBSI), a U.S. Department of State regional security partnership. Phases I and II are designed to conduct joint, interagency capacity building exercises for participating nations. Those exercises focus on increasing regional cooperation in complex, multinational security operations, humanitarian assistance, and disaster response operations,” the statement reads.
“Tradewinds supports U.S. and regional objectives to improve regional security and enables all participants to collaborate and learn from each other,” said Admiral Kurt W. Tidd, Commander of U.S. Southern Command. “Moreover, Tradewinds will have longlasting benefits to all the participants. More than likely, some of the relationships and friendships forged through this exercise will result in future interactions that will already have a foundation to build upon.”
Military and security personnel from 13 Caribbean Community (CARICOM) member states — Antigua and Barbuda, Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Dominica, Grenada, Guyana, Haiti, Jamaica, St. Kitts and Nevis, Suriname, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Trinidad and Tobago — will join military personnel from the United States, Canada, France, and the United Kingdom for Phase I of Exercise Tradewinds 2016.
Participating regional organizations include the Regional Security System (RSS), Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA), and CARICOM.
Since 2013 the United States has suspended assistance to Saint Lucia because of 12 police killings in 2011. The State Department said then that there has been only “limited progress” in investigating the killings. This prompted the IMPACS investigation by prime minister Kenny Anthony who in 2015 acknowledged receipt of a report from investigators. Since then there have been no legal proceedings based on the findings, prompting mounting pressure from the US, as well as the EU, for the government of Saint Lucia to proceed on the matter.
The suspension of aid to Saint Lucia stems from the “Leahy Amendment” which bans assistance “to any unit of the security forces of a foreign country if the Secretary of State has credible information that such unit has committed a gross violation of human rights.”
How much longer will Saint Lucia have to wait before its Police Force is allowed to rejoin regional exercises funded by the United States?