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JAMAICA | The Shiprider Agreement with the US is to be reviewed says Johnson-Smith

Featured Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, Senator Kamina Johnson-Smith Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, Senator Kamina Johnson-Smith
KINGSTON, Jamaica, July 25, 2019 - The Shiprider Agreement, a memorandum of understanding between The Governments of Jamaica and the United States, for cooperation in deterring the movement of illicit drugs through Jamaican territorial waters from South America to the United States, is to be reviewed.

 The protocol further allows for cooperation in ship boarding, ship riding and over flight. In addition, US Coast Guard law enforcement detachments operating from specific foreign government ships will be able to board suspected ships in Jamaican waters.

 The protocol also speeds up the provision of technical assistance including drug detection technology between the two countries and puts a framework in place for the exercise of jurisdiction in each nation’s continuous zone. Importantly it ensures greater protection for civil aircraft including an agreement that neither the US nor Jamaica will use force against civil aircraft in flight.

 The review of review the Shiprider Agreement, comes amid the controversy surrounding the detention of five Jamaican fishermen by the United States Coast Guard in 2017, and their claim that they were mistreated by the Coast Guard crew and spent some ten months in a US jail.

 Speaking at a media briefing Tuesday morning, Foreign Affairs Minister Senator Kamina Johnson Smith disclosed plans to review the agreement while admitting that more could have been done to follow up with the case involving the five Jamaicans. 

 "I think we can do more...and that is the commitment that I give for us to review the processes robustly and in a focused way," she said, adding: "It is something that we clearly need to do. The agreement does provide for a review and notwithstanding, we think that the matters that have been raised in the public domain justify the types of discussion that we have already started with the US government,"   

 The American Civil Liberties Union has filed a lawsuit against the US Coast Guard for the alleged inhumane treatment of the fishermen.

 Johnson Smith said the Foreign Affairs Ministry has not yet met with the fishermen, but "have reached out." 

She said the waiver granted to the US Coast Guard for the detention of the fishermen was the third such case since the 2016 amendment to the Shiprider Agreement. 

 Senator Johnson Smith noted that the current case brought by the Jamaican fishermen represents a significant juncture in the implementation of the agreement, and given the concerns arising from the case, the Jamaican government will have to "review the protocols and procedures to ensure that our citizens are protected." 

  • Countries: Jamaica
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