Seafarers’ Rights International (SRI), the international centre dedicated to advancing the rights of seafarers, has given an initial response to today’s judgement handed down in relation to the sinking of the South Korean ferry SEWOL in April of this year, with the loss of over 300 lives.
In a statement, Deirdre Fitzpatrick, Executive Director of SRI said: “This disaster has been beset with tragedies and sadness from the beginning. The reported comments of the South Korean president Park Geun-hye in the aftermath of the disaster that the conduct of the Master and some crew was “like an act of murder” will have added to the heightened emotional context and might have made it difficult for any court to be dispassionate”.
“This complex judgement in which the Master and 14 crew members were convicted of various offences, and sentenced to jail terms ranging up to 36 years, requires careful consideration before any fair comment can be made on the court proceedings, the convictions and the sentences.”
“The ramifications of this case are far ranging, raising many questions regarding the circumstances of this particular ferry disaster and the ferry industry internationally. These ramifications need to be explored over the ensuing months both nationally and internationally so that lessons can be learned to prevent as far as possible a repetition of this tragedy.”