Highlights: Annual Review 2012

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Seafarers’ Rights International is a unique and independent centre dedicated to advancing seafarers’ interests through research, education and training in the law concerning seafarers.

Executive Director’s Welcome; Deirdre Fitzpatrick

Welcome to the first biennial report of Seafarers’ Rights International (SRI). This report gives us an opportunity to talk in a little more detail about the work we have been undertaking here at SRI, and to outline future strategies in our work to protect the rights of seafarers.

As many of you will know, SRI was launched at the International Maritime Organization in late 2010. It is a pan-industry global centre focused on promoting and advancing the legal rights of seafarers. I have been working in the area of seafarers’ rights for over 15 years, and the idea for SRI grew out of my realisation that the subject of seafarers’ rights lacked the resources needed to work strategically to meet the needs of the seafarer, and to generate more interest and commitment to the subject.

 

The legal aspects of seafarers’ rights are not always the most visible, but they underpin everything that the seafarer is able to do, and to rely upon. This underlines the importance of having an independent forum that it is not just about reacting to seafarers’ problems on a case-by-case basis, but is forward-thinking enough to develop some sort of relevant architecture to plan how the rights of seafarers should be developed internationally, regionally and at national level. [……]

» READ FULL ARTICLE HERE

 


 

SRI Advisory Board; Chairman’s Comment

“It gives me pleasure to introduce the Advisory Board and its members to you. The work of SRI, focused as it is solely on the rights of seafarers, is required to be of the highest legal standard. Most importantly, the results of its work must be capable of practical application by those in the industry, be they ship owners, unions, lawyers, academics and, not least, seafarers. The Advisory Board supports and assists SRI’s Executive Director in determining the strategic direction of SRI’s work, and in ensuring independence and impartiality in SRI’s delivered work.”

 

Brian Orrell, Chairman of the Advisory Board (H3)

 

SRI is more than fortunate to have such senior and experienced persons involved in its work.

 The Advisory Board members bring a multitude of experiences which ensures that diverse views are represented in the strategic planning of SRI’s work. From earliest exchanges, it has been clear that the Advisory Board members are determined to safeguard the independence of SRI, and to appeal to all SRI’s stakeholders. I think it is appropriate to expand on the Board’s understanding of what it means by these terms. Board members strongly believe that SRI serves such distinct stakeholder groupings as: ship owners and those in the shipping industry; governments, government bodies and politicians; inter-governmental organisations, including the IMO, ILO and the EU; welfare organisations; seafarers’ unions; legal practitioners and judges; academics, universities and maritime training colleges and schools as well as the media in all its forms. […..]

The SRI Advisory Board
READ FULL ARTICLE HERE

 


 

Seafarers and the Criminal Law: How Guilty is Your Crew?

In April 2012, SRI made public the headlines of a survey it had conducted of 3480 seafarers in the 12 months to the end of February 2012 concerning their experiences of criminal charges. The survey was conducted in eight languages, with responses returned from 18 countries and 68 different nationalities of seafarers. The headlines created some shock waves, and for SRI are a worrying indictment of the plight of the seafarer facing criminal charges.

Seafarers and the Criminal Law: How Guilty is Your Crew?
In April 2012, SRI made public the headlines of a survey it had conducted of 3480 seafarers in the 12 months to the end of February 2012 concerning their experiences of criminal charges. The survey was conducted in eight languages, with responses returned from 18 countries and 68 different nationalities of seafarers. The headlines created some shock waves, and for SRI are a worrying indictment of the plight of the seafarer facing criminal charges.

READ FULL ARTICLE

 


 

The Phenomenon of Abandoned Seafarers

 

One of the most alarming risks that seafarers face in the course of their working lives is the risk of abandonment. The phenomenon does not get the same media attention as other disturbances of maritime trade. But for the seafarers concerned, the experience of being abandoned, the consequences for their careers, and the lasting impact on their personal as well as professional lives can be a stark one of human hardship. For this reason, SRI has identified the problem of abandonment as one deserving of early attention.

Abandonment can happen for a number of different reasons. It is often a calculated economic decision by a ship owner facing bankruptcy, insolvency or the arrest of its vessel by creditors. “You can identify quite early on the companies with cash-flow problems, and this is reflected in delayed payments to mortgage holders and other creditors, and simultaneously wages don’t get paid,” said Professor Couper, past director of the Seafarers International Research Centre at the University of Cardiff. In many cases, vessels are abandoned after they are detained by port state control inspectors as unseaworthy. The global economic downturn has hit some operators hard, but it is often the crews who come off worst. [….]

READ FULL ARTICLE HERE

 


 

Flag State Responsibility: The Need to Take Standards Seriously

The legal regime for the protection and advancement of seafarers’ rights sits squarely in the framework of international law, dominated as it is by the sweeping principle that ships have the nationality of the state whose flag they are entitled to fly.

Linked to this are the so-called ‘rules of reference’ contained in Article 94 of UNCLOS by which flag states are called upon to take measures for its ships necessary to ensure safety at sea with regard, inter alia, to ‘. . . the manning of ships, labour conditions and the training of crews” (paragraph 3); and that ‘each ship is in the charge of a master and officers who possess appropriate qualifications . . . and that the crew is appropriate in qualification and numbers for the type, size, machinery and equipment of the ship’ (paragraph 4). The effect of Article 94(5) is that all parties to UNCLOS must comply with ‘generally accepted international regulations, procedures and practices’ relating to ….. ‘labour conditions,’ and this clearly opens the spectre of flag state responsibilities in respect of UN human rights treaties and the ILO conventions that may be considered to be generally accepted international regulations, procedures and practices relating to labour conditions. These considerations are of vast consequences for seafarers whose working conditions are often impacted by flag State laws and practices. [……….]

 

>>READ FULL ARTICLE HERE

 


 

Contextualising SRI and Seafarers Rights

SRI was launched on World Maritime day in 2010, in the Year of the Seafarer, under the auspices of the Secretary-General of the IMO. It is the first pan-industry initiative to seek to bring together expertise amongst stakeholders with the aim of promoting and advancing the legal rights of seafarers.

Speaking at the launch, David Cockroft, General Secretary of the ITF said: “The success of an independent body such as Seafarers’ Rights International is crucial to identifying and tackling the rights of seafarers and that is of interest to all industry stakeholders including the ITF”.

The seafaring profession is one of the most dangerous and seafarers often work in hazardous conditions. [….]

» READ FULL ARTICLE HERE


SRI intends to be a permanent and tangible resource and a symbol of the greater accountability and long-term commitment of the international maritime community to promote the development and dissemination of seafarers’ law, and to improve seafarers’ legal rights and their protection under a just rule of law

Mission Statement: SRI places the protection of seafarers’ legal interests at the centre of its concerns. Its mission is to advance seafarers’ rights in international and national forums through independent high quality research, education and training in the law concerning seafarers, to empower seafarers to realise their rights and to protect their diverse interests worldwide.