Human Rights at Sea (HRAS) have engaged with The Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCR) UN Working Group on a report highlighting the use of mercenaries as a means of violating human rights and impeding the exercise of people’s right to self-determination.
RAS CEO, David Hammond, travelled to Geneva to give evidence regarding the increase in private military and security companies being deployed at sea and enabling the abuse of seafarers due to a lack of monitoring and oversight, which has allowed it to thrive.
While these shifts carry the potential for more secure maritime transit, it may also come at a cost to human rights, including the disproportionate use of force, violations to rights to life, liberty, and due process guarantees
…the Working Group said.
Maritime security has become a concern among States and other international actors. It has evolved as a direct response to piracy and other threats, including interstate warfare, militarized disputes, and terrorism.
The Working Group have also highlighted a reported increase in the use of maritime vessels to transport weapons for mercenary purposes and the potential risks of human trafficking via the maritime transfer of coerced mercenary recruits from certain countries.
“We are concerned by the opacity around the use of maritime vessels to support mercenary-related activities; further data collection and research are required in this area.”
The report gives several recommendations, including “Include human rights standards in maritime policies, registration and related documentation, including, for example, flag State registration and memorandums of understanding;.”
Human Rights at Sea are equally important to be protected and standards upheld when private security actors are involved. Our NGO echoes the recommendations and continues to argue that the adoption of the Geneva Declaration of Human Rights at Sea by all States will be a significant step toward meeting them.
The report mentions that the isolated nature of the marine environment and non-existent or weak regulatory frameworks create a situation where the lack of monitoring and oversight enable human rights abuses of seafarers. In this context, proper oversight and regulation of private military and security companies operating in the maritime context is urgently needed, in particular to ensure that victims of abuses at sea perpetrated by such actors can gain access to justiceand effective remedy.