Lo­cal Po­lice left out of US Train­ing Ex­er­cise Again!

The Star (St. Lucia) - - LOCAL -

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?

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