Four Jamaica fishermen with the help of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) are suing the U.S. government for kidnapping, detaining and abusing them at sea for 33 days.
According to the federal lawsuit filed by ACLU, the men — Robert Dexter Weir, Patrick Wayne Ferguson, Luther Fian Patterson, and David Roderick Williams— say the US Coast Guard accused them of drug smuggling, snatched them off their boat, chained them to decks and sailed with them straight into Hurricane Maria while denying them access to shelter, basic sanitation, proper food, and medical care.
We filed a lawsuit yesterday to get justice for Jamaican men who were kidnapped and abused by the U.S. Coast Guard for over a month.— ACLU (@ACLU) June 13, 2019
The men still suffer from physical and psychological trauma as a result of their treatment. pic.twitter.com/6EyAtCO3ME
They were never convicted of a drug crime. After finding nothing aboard fishermen’s vessel, the Americans dumped the Jamaicans nationals in Miami where they were charged, tried, and convicted for lying. They had pleaded guilty to lying to investigators because, according to the suit, their attorney told them it was the fastest way to get home.
The men had set out into the Caribbean Sea from the fishing village Half Moon Bay, near Falmouth, Jamaica, in September of 2017 on a quest for tuna and snapper — which was supposed to last about two days. Then they disappeared. Their families presumed them dead.
They begged to contact their loved ones to informed that they were OK. “It feels like sometime I will jump overboard, too,” one of the men, Patrick W. Ferguson, says in a video produced by the ACLU
The US agency requested permission from the government of Jamaica to prosecute the men in the United States. The agency then detained the men and later received consent from the Jamaican government.
“This is part of a well-documented practice by the Coast Guard in carrying out “the War on Drugs.” Since then, thousands of men have been taken from their boats and held for weeks or months. For many, like our clients, no drugs were ever found, ” ACLU wrote in a statement.
Read more on the ACLU Alleges Coast Guard Detained and Abused Fishermen from The Atlantic and The Miami New Times