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Government to review Shiprider Agreement with the US

Foreign Affairs Minister Senator Kamina Johnson Smith
 
Amid the controversy surrounding the detention of five Jamaican fishermen by the US Coast Guard in 2017, the Government of Jamaica has decided to review the Shiprider Agreement.
 
The Shiprider Agreement is a memorandum of understanding for cooperation in deterring the movement of illicit drugs through Jamaican territorial waters. 
 
Under the agreement, the US Coast Guard can board suspected ships in Jamaican waters.
 
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.
 
Senator 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." 


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