Steven Watt, senior staff attorney at the United States-based human rights group America Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), has hit back at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade for what can be described as dereliction of duty after it issued a statement on the five fishermen who have claimed that they were detained at sea by the US Coast Guard for 32 days in inhumane conditions.
Last Friday, Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade Minister Kamina Johnson Smith told the Senate that there was no record of any complaint of mistreatment lodged with the Jamaica Government by the men after they were arrested by US authorities in 2017 or upon their deportation in 2018.
In a release on Tuesday, the foreign affairs ministry restated that no complaints were made even when the fishermen engaged directly with the staff of the Consulate General in Miami or during processing when they returned to Jamaica.
The statement added: “It is also unfortunate that the family of the men did not report them to the ministry as missing as has been done in many prior consular cases.”
But the attorney has criticised the Government for shifting the blame, insisting that the families of the fishermen took every possible action to have them found but to no avail.