The International Maritime Organization (IMO) ‘Day of the Seafarer’ – on 25 June 2011 – is the opportunity for renewed efforts to safeguard the human rights of seafarers throughout the world and ensure that they are offered proper legal protection and support. That is the message from Deirdre Fitzpatrick, Executive Director of Seafarers’ Rights International (SRI ),
the organisation dedicated to raising awareness of the rights of seafarers and improving their legal protection under national and international laws.
“On this important date, players in the maritime world have to ask themselves the question: how much do they care about the workers who transport over 90% of the goods we all rely on, when crews are risking their lives in pirate-infested waters, vessel abandonment is still happening and there is little or no progress towards a safety net for seafarers facing criminal charges,” says Ms Fitzpatrick. “Now is the time to provide the resources to highlight seafarers’ problems and to challenge the role and effectiveness of the law in protecting seafarers’ rights.”
The ‘Day of the Seafarer’ sees the launch of SRI ’s web resource for seafarers and stakeholders. Via the website, SRI will deliver its key objectives of promoting research, education and training in the legal rights and remedies applicable to seafarers. The site is designed to offer practical support and information for seafarers while providing the main delivery mechanism for SRI’s research programmes, articles, news and critical analysis from experts in both the shipping industry and the legal world.
Since its successful launch in September last year, an impressive line-up of influential experts from the shipping industry and the legal world has been recruited to SRI ’s Advisory Board.
Three important research projects are under way with results anticipated later in the year. However, preliminary feedback makes compelling reading, providing a clear indication of the concerns of seafarers and the need for information, support and solutions to the problems seafarers face. Worries over unpaid wages, contract disputes, personal injuries, sickness, working hours, shore leave, abandonment, criminal charges and piracy are the grim reality for many seafarers.
“A staggering 96% of seafarers in one sample wanted more information on their legal rights,” explains Ms Fitzpatrick. “Seafarers are highly vulnerable to ill treatment, exploitation, abuse and injustice. Providing them the information they need in an easily accessible way is a key priority for SRI and we are delighted that our new web resource will contribute to that objective.”