Two United States senators and a congressman have written to Deputy Governor Archer Jr. to call for fair treatment for Michael Foy (above), who runs a commercial fishing operation out of Puerto Rico and was arrested in Virgin Islands waters in June. (Photo: PROVIDED)

Two United States senators and a congressman wrote last week to Deputy Governor David Archer Jr. urging him to ensure that a US commercial fisherman who was arrested here in June is afforded fair treatment and a humane detention.

“We are aware that our constituent, Michael Foy, has been detained in Tortola and have been in communication with the State Department and the [United States] Embassy in Barbados regarding the case,” according to the June 30 letter signed by Senators Cory Booker and Robert Menendez and Congressman Andy Kim.

“We will continue to closely follow Mr. Foy’s case and expect him to be treated appropriately under safe and sanitary conditions. Mr. Foy should be treated fairly, and we support a fair legal process without delay.”

All three lawmakers represent New Jersey, which is Mr. Foy’s “main residence” although he spends much of the year in Puerto Rico and fishing at sea, according to his sister, Kimberly Kelly Foy.

Mr. Foy was arrested on June 8, when police intercepted his vessel in the vicinity of Norman and Peter islands, and he was later charged with illegal entry; operating an unlicensed and unregulated fishing vessel; and arriving at a place other than a customs port, according to Police Information Officer Akia Thomas.

He was subsequently remanded to Her Majesty’s Prison, Ms. Thomas said.

But Ms. Foy suspects her brother has been mistreated during his detainment, alleging that an official from the US Embassy in Barbados told her that he claimed he had gone days before being given toothpaste, soap or clean clothes.

“As a mother, as a person, I went ballistic,” Ms. Foy said. “I was so upset.”

Police Commisoner Michael Matthews and Acting Deputy Superintendent of Her Majesty’s Prison Alexander Mills both declined to comment on these allegations.

While Mr. Foy remains in custody, his sister believes the four Indonesian members of his crew are still confined to the ship, where the septic system has overflowed and the generator may have stopped working, she said, citing information from one of his lawyers.

Though Ms. Foy has been unable to communicate directly with the crewmembers, she has tried to solicit help from human rights organisations, including Amnesty International UK and Human Rights at Sea, but has not yet succeeded in repatriating them or ensuring them better conditions, she said.

“That’s becoming a humanitarian crisis,” she said, adding, “They’re in squalor.”

Acting Chief Immigration Officer Ian Penn and acting Customs Commissioner Leslie Lettsome both declined to comment for this article, citing Mr. Foy’s ongoing criminal case.

Director of Public Prosecutions Tiffany Scatliffe-Esprit did not respond to an email by press time, after this reporter was told the DPP’s office does not accept calls from the media.

Mr. Archer could not be reached for comment.


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