A US-based non profit human rights lobby group is suing the US Coast guard on behalf of four Jamaican fishermen who were detained by the organisation.
The American Civil Liberties Union, ACLU, filed a lawsuit on Wednesday claiming the US Coast Guard improperly detained the Jamaican fishermen and kept them in inhumane conditions for more than a month.
The ACLU, named the fishermen as Robert Dexter Weir, Patrick Wayne Ferguson, Luther Fian Patterson and David Roderick Williams.
The ACLU says the Coast Guard seized the fishermen, set their boat on fire and shot it up.
It says the US Coast Guard also held the men in secret, chaining them to the exposed decks of four different Coast Guard ships.
The ACLU says the men were denied access to shelter, basic sanitation, proper food and medical care.
It says the men were barred from contacting their families for over a month, and later learned their families had presumed they died when they failed to return home from their trip.
It says as a result, the fishermen now suffer from physical and psychological trauma.
In the meantime, a spokesman for the US Coast Guard, Lieutenant Commander Scott McBride, hits back at the claims.
He says in September 2017, the Coast Guard intercepted a vessel near Haiti and recovered about 600 pounds of marijuana that the crew had thrown overboard.
He says the Coast Guard detained five crew members who claimed to be Jamaican citizens.
The US Coast Guard spokesman maintains that all suspects were cared for humanely, while preserving the security of both the crew and suspects.
He says the men pleaded guilty to making a false official statement to a law enforcement officer and were sentenced to ten months’ imprisonment.
The ACLU says the men only pleaded guilty because they were told that it was the quickest and surest way to get back to their homes and families.