The United States will not reconsider the type of training it provides to foreign military members despite finding that seven of the 25 individuals arrested in the assassination of Haiti’s president were at one time trained by the U.S.
As VOA first reported, U.S. defense officials last week said that the seven received U.S. military training, both in the U.S. and in Colombia, between 2001 and 2015, when they were part of the Colombian military.
But Pentagon press secretary John Kirby said Thursday there was nothing to tie that training to the alleged participation in the plot that killed Haitian President Jovenel Moise earlier this month.
“We know that these seven individuals got nothing certainly related, at all, or that one could extrapolate, as leading to or encouraging of what happened in Haiti," Kirby told reporters during a press gaggle.
“I know of no plans right now as a result of what happened in Haiti for us to reconsider or to change this very valuable, ethical leadership training that we continue to provide to partners in the Western Hemisphere and to partners around the world,” he added.
While some of the training took place in Colombia, Pentagon officials say some of the Colombian nationals were trained at seminars in Washington. Some also took courses at the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation (WHINSEC), based at Fort Benning in the southern U.S. state of Georgia.
WHINSEC, established in January 2001, replaced the School of the Americas, which came under heavy criticism in the early to mid-1990s after its graduates were implicated in human rights violations, including murders and disappearances, in El Salvador, Colombia, Peru, Honduras and Panama.
In an interview with VOA in April, WHINSEC Commandant Colonel John Dee Suggs said the new school was designed with a focus on human rights and ethics.
“There is a pretty rigorous review of people and their human rights history,” Suggs told VOA. “We will only train people who have the same human rights values that we have, who have the same democratic values that we have.”
“We’re not shooting anybody. We’re not teaching anybody to … go into a house and take these folks down,” he added.
Pentagon officials told VOA this week that the Colombians who trained at WHINSEC took courses in cadet leadership, professional development, counter-drug operations and small unit leader training.
"All WHINSEC courses include human rights and ethics training," one official added.
Pentagon and State Department officials have previously said they are continuing to review their records to determine whether any other suspects received training from the U.S.
Haitian President Moise was shot and killed in the predawn hours of July 7 at his private residence in a wealthy suburb of Port-au-Prince.
Earlier this week, Haiti sworn in a new prime minister, Ariel Henry, as part of an attempt to stabilize the country following Moise’s death.
Haitian authorities say they are continuing to investigate Moise’s assassination.
Officials have accused Christian Emmanuel Sanon, a Haitian doctor with ties to Florida, as being the plot’s mastermind.
Some information from AFP was used in this report.