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June 19, 2019

GOJ GRANTED WAIVER TO U.S TO DETAIN JAMAICAN FISHERMEN


The Government of Jamaica is admitting that it granted a waiver to the US authorities to detain four Jamaican fishermen who recently filed a lawsuit against the US Coastal Guard on claims of being held in inhumane conditions for a number of weeks.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade made the disclosure in a Press Release this afternoon (June 18, 2019). However, the Release stated that there is no record of any complaint of mistreatment lodged with the Jamaican Government through any of its agencies by the men. The release further said that in 2017 its waiver allowed for the arrest of the five Jamaicans under the Ship Rider Agreement with the US, based on information regarding suspicion of trafficking in contraband, the location of the vessel, the Jamaican registration of the vessel and nationality of the crew. The American Civil Liberties Union is representing four of the five men in a lawsuit filed in a US court last week. The men claimed that they were chained to the decks of the US Coast Guard vessels, stripped naked and made to lie in faeces and had their boat destroyed.

The Foreign Affairs Ministry said that there is no record of their deportation last year or when they engaged directly with the staff of the Consulate-General in Miami or on their return to Jamaica. The Ministry says it also regrets that the family of the men did not contact the Ministry when the men went missing.

The Press Release said the Ministry has started discussions with the US Embassy in Jamaica regarding the procedures being followed by the US Coast Guard to address the regional maritime security challenges.

[Contributed by Senior News Editor His Excellency Professor Colin O Jarrett]

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