Fairplay, 6 October 2011
Training Education: Campaign moves into new phase with law students
Just a year after it was set up, Seafarers’ Rights International (SRI) took its first four masters of law interns this summer from the universities of Southampton and Westminster in the UK.
SRI was established in London in September last year (see Fairplay, 29 September) and its research seeks to unravel the complex web of seafarers’ rights and help seafarers enforce them.
SRI’s aim is to advance the seafaring profession, its executive director Deirdre Fitzpatrick told Fairplay. She was head of the International Transport Workers Federation’s legal department for more than 15 years but became frustrated by the difficulties in accessing and enforcing the law to assist seafarers. Now, with SRI’s first interns, Fitzpatrick is reaching out to maritime law students to raise awareness.
Their work experience, on SRI’s criminalisation, abandonment and flag state responsibilities projects, will include drafting policy on ‘substantial legal issues affecting seafarers.’
Fitzpatrick hopes to attract more. “It’s a compelling subject from a legal perspective,” she said, pointing to jurisdictional challenges and the fact that these decisions determine the “health, wealth, life and death of seafarers.”
Fitzpatrick, who has co-edited one of just two books on the subject, Seafarers’ Rights (Oxford University Press, 2005) has won support from many industry leaders, 14 of whom make up SRI’s advisory board.
They include educationalists such as Hilton Staniland, maritime law professor at the University of Southampton, and Alastair Couper, former maritime studies department head at Cardiff University. They will work to get seafarers’ rights on to university curriculums.
The successful applicants for SRI’s 2011 summer internship were: Nigerian-born Elijah Christopher Briggs; Julia Constantino Chagas Lessa from Brazil; Belfast-born Christine Davey; and Serhan Handani from Southampton.
With the support of SRI’s closely integrated team of lawyers and other specialists, they worked on research projects, including the criminalisation and abandonment of seafarers.