Featured Foreign Affairs Minister Senator Kamina Johnson Smith has sought to explained why the government granted a waiver for the US Coast Guard to detain five Jamaican fishermen in 2017.
KINGSTON, June 25, 2019 - Foreign Affairs Minister Senator Kamina Johnson Smith today said a US delegation is to arrive in Jamaica shortly to discuss the detention of the five Jamaican fishermen, and to give the government an assurance that the the US government followed and will continue to follow protocols under the Shiprider agreement.
Speaking at a media briefing Tuesday morning, Senator Johnson Smith said "What we want is to ensure that we not only get first-hand assurance about their commitment to the spirit in which we entered into this partnership, but that our processes, our procedures and our protocols on both sides are not only complimentary and effective from a security perspective, but in respect of the protection of the rights of our citizens."
Senator Johnson Smith sought to explained why the government granted a waiver for the US Coast Guard to detain five Jamaican fishermen in 2017, amidst criticism of the government's handling of the case.
She said the issue has been taken out of context. and explained that in September 2017, the Jamaican government was informed that a "go-fast vessel, named The Josette, with five men on board, had been intercepted by the US Coast Guard, having been allegedly observed in the act of jettisoning items from the vessel into the sea. We were further informed that they were intercepted on suspicion of being in possession of and transporting illicit drugs."
After the vessel was confirmed as being registered in Jamaica and the men confirmed their Jamaican nationality to the US Coast Guard, the Jamaican government said it received a request for a waiver of jurisdiction.
"This triggered notice to and consultations with the relevant MDAs on the matter, leading to a final decision in October 2017 by the Ministry of National Security, which was conveyed to the United States via its embassy in Kingston," Senator Johnson Smith recalled.
She said the waiver was granted after the ministry was given written confirmation by the US that requirements laid out by the Jamaican government - that the men were in good health, were aware of their right to consular assistance and that they would be provided with legal representation - would be followed by the US Coast Guard in detaining the men.
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