The United States can play a positive role in training Latin American police forces, but such training programs should be run by civilians and monitored by civil-society groups to ensure they do not promote human rights violations, WOLA Program Director Geoff Thale said in an interview on television network Link-TV .
Approval of $465 million in U.S. security aid for Mexico and Central America has focused attention again on what role the United States should play, if any, in professionalizing Latin American police forces that have a history of corruption and abuses.
“If the United States can be helpful so that Latin American governments and civil societies train and develop modern and professional civilian police forces, in the context of a larger response to crime and insecurity, that’s probably a good thing,” said Thale in the broadcast.
But he added, “There are real problems in U.S. history with this, and that’s why U.S. police training needs to be transparent. There needs to be oversight from Latin American civil society groups of it, and there need to be guarantees that it’s done by civilians and not by or for the military.”
To see the full interview, click here.
To read WOLA’s report on violence and police reform in Mexico “At a Crossroads: Drug Trafficking, Violence and the Mexican State,” click here .