The government will be seeking improvements to the procedures and protocols under the now controversial Shiprider Agreement.

The agreement allows the Jamaican government to waive primary jurisdiction over its nationals, suspected of drug trafficking on the open seas.

The move comes after fresh concerns were raised over the treatment of Jamaicans detained by the US Coast Guard under the arrangement.

Speaking in the Senate this afternoon, Foreign Affairs Minister, Kamina Johnson Smith, says the two governments are currently holding discussions on the matter.

Ricardo Brooks tells us more.


Minister Johnson Smith, says the government has already identified areas in which they believe the handling of the Shiprider agreement can be improved.

The agreement again came into sharp focus late last year after the crew of the Jamaican vessel, Lady Lawla, was detained by the US Coast Guard.

The attorneys representing the ship’s owner allege that the vessel was destroyed and the crew detained due to 150 gallons of cocaine being found in containers onboard.

However, they say the detention of the men was terminated, after a Florida Judge ruled that the containers only held gasoline.

Despite this the men remained in custody for nearly a month afterward.

The Foreign Affairs Minister, says the US government has apologized for the poor handling of the matter.

The Minister says the protection of the human rights of Jamaicans held in foreign custody remains paramount.

She says the US is expected to respond to their proposals for improvements to the agreement within the month.

However, she notes the Shiprider Agreement remains indispensable in fighting the maritime drug trade and would not be drawn as to whether amendments will be sought.

Senate Clash in Shiprider Debate

Meanwhile, things became heated in the Upper House after Senator Lambert Brown, accused the government of selling out Jamaicans under the Shiprider Agreement.

This forced the intervention of Senator Leslie Campbell.

However, Foreign Affairs Minister, Kamina Johnson Smith, also hit back, noting that current Leader of Opposition Business in the Senate then Minister of National Security, Peter Bunting, was instrumental in the creation of the agreement.

But, Mr. Bunting would not let that comment stand.

Peter Bunting, Leader of Opposition Business in the Senate.