U.S. Suspends Aid Over Human Rights Abuses by Police … in St. Lucia

U.S. Suspends Aid Over Human Rights Abuses by Police … in St. Lucia

The United States has cut off foreign aid because of a string of alleged killings by police. Just not in Egypt.

The State Department confirmed Thursday that it has suspended assistance to the Caribbean island nation of St. Lucia because of 12 killings in 2011 by an "ad hoc task force within the police department." Reuters reports that five of the dead were on a hit list of people deemed to be criminals. The State Department said there has been only "limited progress" in investigating the killings. 

The news comes against the backdrop of Egyptian security forces’ violent crackdown on supporters of ousted president Mohamed Morsy, which began on Aug. 14 and left more than 1,000 people dead. Granted, the hit-list charges give the St. Lucia killings a more pre-meditated dimension.

The suspension of aid to St. 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."

The law is distinct from the U.S. statute banning aid to governments that have been toppled in a coup, which is the section usually discussed in the context of Egypt. While the Leahy Amendment does not define a "gross violation of human rights" — and incidents are reviewed on a "case-by-case basis" — it is certainly not a stretch to apply the law to the situation in Egypt.

While the White House insists that aid has not yet been suspended to Egypt, President Obama reiterated in an interview with CNN on Friday that the United States is "doing a full evaluation of the U.S.-Egyptian relationship."

Obama added that cutting off aid might not be effective, though. "The aid itself may not reverse what the interim government does," he said.

It remains to be seen whether the tactic will have any effect on the government of St. Lucia.