US Ambassador calls sanctions on St Lucia police force “regrettable”

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C – US Assistant Secretary of State for the Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs, Ambassador William R. Brownfield

CASTRIES, St Lucia, Monday June 30, 2014, CMC – US Assistant Secretary of State for the Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs, Ambassador William R. Brownfield, has expressed regret over the suspension of assistance from the United States to the Royal Saint Lucia Police Force (RSLPF).

Last year the US Department of State announced a policy decision to withdraw training and material assistance to the RSLPF due to ‘credible allegations’ of gross human rights violations.

“Do I regret that we are in this position, of course I do,” Brownfield said last week.

He, however, made clear that his regret cut ‘both ways’.

“I regret even more the actions and activities by some – by no means all, that have somehow contaminated the entire institution and I hope we are able to work our way through this complicated set of issues,” Brownfield said.

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According to him, failure to do so would make not only the US, but the people of St Lucia and the entire Caribbean suffer.

However Ambassador Brownfield observed that his country is limited by law in terms of the cooperation it can offer and engage in with law enforcement institutions against which there are credible grounds to believe they have engaged in gross human rights violations, including extra-judicial killings.

“This is not a matter of flexibility or discretion for us, as once the determination is made we are then required to suspend cooperation until such time as that evidence is clarified to the contrary, or the affected agency or organisation has taken steps to clear up whatever activity may have caused the concern to begin with,” Brownfield noted.

A team from the Jamaica Constabulary Force has been conducting an independent investigation into at least 12 alleged extra-judicial killings by St Lucia Police between 2010 and 2011, during the administration of the then United Workers Party (UWP).

The length of time the investigation has taken has been criticised by both St Lucia’s Police Commissioner, Vernon Francois, and Human Rights Activist, Mary Francis, but the St Lucia government has said it would not compromise a thorough investigation for the sake of speed.

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