Jamaica Signs New Shiprider Agreement With United States


The Governments of Jamaica and the United States today signed a protocol amending the 1997 US Jamaica Maritime Counter Narcotics Cooperation Agreement, also known as the Shiprider Agreement, for further cooperation in deterring the movement of illicit drugs through Jamaican territorial waters from South America to the United States.
The protocol further allows for cooperation in ship boarding, ship riding and over flight. In addition, US Coast Guard law enforcement detachments operating from specific foreign government ships will be able to board suspected ships in Jamaican waters.
The protocol also speeds up the provision of technical assistance including drug detection technology between the two countries and puts a framework in place for the exercise of jurisdiction in each nation’s continuous zone. Importantly it ensures greater protection for civil aircraft including an agreement that neither the US nor Jamaica will use force against civil aircraft in flight.
US Ambassador to Jamaica, Her Excellency Sue Cobb who signed on behalf of the United States Government at the Ministry of National Security on Oxford Road in Kingston, said the protocol significantly enhanced US/Jamaica efforts to stop maritime smuggling of illicit narcotics in the region.
Ambassador Cobb pointed out that drug smuggling was a challenge to other countries in the region and they had also agreed to assist in the effort.
“The new shiprider protocol is clearly a force multiplier, it will significantly assist in the fight against narcotics traffickers in the region, together Jamaica and the United Sates along with our partners will have greater coverage, greater reach, greater ability to detect and seize narcotics shipments,” she stated.
Ambassador Cobb also noted that through cooperation, joint efforts to investigate and prosecute criminals who control the drugs would be improved. She said the new agreement would be of great benefit to both nations.
Furthermore, Ambassador Cobb pointed out that each year traffickers attempted to move more than 100 tonnes of cocaine from South America through Jamaican territory en route to the US.
However, she said that over the past several years the US and Jamaican coastguards had tracked hundreds of instances where traffickers had attempted to use “go-fast” boats to transport drugs. These boats are able to carry 500 kilograms to 1.5 metric tonnes of cocaine. However, coordinated law enforcement activities, have resulted in a significant number of disrupted trips and large seizures as well as the arrest of smugglers involved.
National Security Minister, Dr. Peter Phillips, in his address, said the protocol and the original agreement were a necessary approach as “counter-narcotics in the contemporary world was an international activity,” and part of a globalized world economy and as such efforts to counteract it would also require effective international cooperation. He said the ease with which the agreement was arrived at was testimony of the ‘successes’ of operations carried out under the agreement since 1997.
“We have had tremendous successes and we believe that the protocol that has been signed today will provide an opportunity for an even more effective exercise of our responsibilities under the main agreement,” Dr. Phillips stated.
In reference to the provisions of the protocol, he noted, “We believe that all of this will help enhance our capabilities.” He however, emphasized that the agreement represented but one tool in the fight against illegal drugs as there were other areas of cooperation between the two countries and other third countries that were essential. He stressed that it was recognized that ultimately the main gain for the two countries and their populations would be to find those that were organizing the trade and ensure that they were brought to justice.
Dr. Phillips also encouraged continued cooperation to ensure that the “scourge of illegal traders” were rolled back.
Jamaican and US negotiators agreed upon the enhanced provisions last summer and both Governments have approved the additional provisions.

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