The IMO’s Technical Co-operation Committee (TCC) has approved the development of training material that aims to better implement seafarer fair treatment guidelines.
The decision comes in response to a request from Seafarers’ Rights International (SRI) last month for the IMO to provide technical support and assistance to implement the International Labour Organization’s (ILO) 2006 guidelines on fair treatment of seafarers in the event of a maritime accident. SRI’s request was supported by recent data acquired by the charity on seafarer criminalisation, which it has said often amounted to “trial by media”.
The issue was subsequently taken up by the IMO’s Legal Committee and put on the organisation’s technical work programme. The primary objective of the IMO’s Integrated Technical Cooperation Programme is to ensure uniform and effective implementation of the various international multilateral treaties that have been adopted within the IMO’s regulatory framework. The fair treatment guidelines’ implementation is monitored by the IMO Legal Committee.
SRI executive director Deirdre Fitzpatrick told IHS Maritime that it was “significant” that the Legal Committee had supported “the speedy implementation of the guidelines”. As well, the committee is reporting the outcome of its discussions to other IMO committees and sub-committees, she said.
The expanded training would be used for “delivering technical assistance activities on safety investigations in marine accidents and marine incidents”, Fitzpatrick said, and the abridged version would be used to foster awareness, for example among senior officials of maritime administrations, about “the III Code or flag, port, and coastal state obligations and responsibilities”.
Notes of the IMO session in June said that the industry was “willing” to financially contribute to this initiative.
SRI’s work on fair treatment is part of what Fitzpatrick said was a “major” project spanning the human rights of seafarers and fishermen, involving “judges, professors, and law firms from all around the world”. She expects the project to result in “voluntary audits of interested parties and other guidance on potential breaches of human rights for all persons on board ships at sea”.
Other conclusions of the Legal Committee in June included the need to progressively remove legislation that “targets seafarers” and imposes criminal sanctions on them, and that member states should consider guidance on the implementation of the guidelines, “in particular for developing countries”.
States already giving effect to the guidelines should provide translated copies of their laws to assist other states with their own implementation, the committee said.
Some states told the committee that they were ready to share their national legislation that put the guidelines into effect, and other member states that had not yet implemented the Guidelines were being encouraged to do so.
Recommendations were also made such that states should provide their embassies with the names of persons whom seafarers could contact to report violations of the guidelines and that seafarers “should be given greater training and awareness of their rights”.