Specifically, the paper was submitted by Georgia, Malaysia, Philippines, Ukraine, International Chamber of Shipping (ICS), International Federation of Shipmasters' Associations (IFSMA), International Association of Independent Tanker Owners (INTERTANKO), International Association of Dry Cargo Shipowners (INTERCARGO), International Ship Managers' Association (InterManager), International Transport Workers' Federation (ITF) and Women's International Shipping and Trading Association Limited (WISTA International).
Criminalization is a crucial challenge for seafarers face today, due to the global nature of shipping as seafarers are recognized as “special category workers”. Thus, a recent Nautilus research showed that approximately 90% of the seafarers questioned expressed concerns about the issue, while two thirds said it impacted the way they felt about working in the profession.
Nowadays, it’s common knowledge that seafarers are deprived of fair treatment and justice and do not receive equal treatment when defending themselves against charges for committing crimes at sea. Additionally, the existence of foreign language and cultural barriers, as well as the diversity of local legal systems, leads to the exacerbation of the seafarers' situation due to insufficient knowledge of criminal procedures in different jurisdictions.
The paper highlights that in some cases the master and the crew may not be aware of their vessel being involved in smuggling activities; Yet, it is common for law enforcement agencies to detain the whole crew, in some cases for a significant period of time and without strong justification.
The co-sponsors propose the launch of a joint IMO/ILO working Group that will overwatch seafarers' treatment when detained on suspicion of committing maritime crimes to:
- ensure seafarers' right to fair treatment in cases of their detention on suspicion of committing maritime crimes;
- develop guidelines and recommendations on prevention of seafarers' involvement in maritime crimes.
In the meantime, the paper suggests that whenever a seafarer is detained in the territory of a Member State, the competent authority should:
- if the seafarer so requests, immediately inform the flag State and the State of nationality of the seafarer;
- promptly inform the seafarer of the right to make such a request
- allow consular officers of these States immediate access to the seafarer and regular visits thereafter so long as the seafarer is detained.
Overall, the co-sponsors invite the Legal Committee to take into consideration the information provided and agree on a new output on its work program on Fair treatment of seafarers detained on suspicion of committing maritime crimes.
To learn more on the submitted proposal click herebelow