The Legal Committee of the International Maritime Organisation has endorsed continuing work to promote as widely as possible the application of the 2006 Guidelines on the fair treatment of seafarers in the event of a maritime accident.
The decision, agreed at the 101st session of the IMO Legal Committee meeting on 28 April – 2 May 2014, followed a survey of IMO member states conducted by Seafarers’ Rights International requesting information on how the states had passed the Guidelines into their laws, or otherwise given effect to the Guidelines.
Some member states who replied to the survey either had already passed all or some of the principles of the Guidelines into their laws, or they already had existing laws to protect the rights of seafarers. However other states still have the Guidelines under consideration and indicated that model legislation, or information from the IMO, would assist them regarding the meaning of the Guidelines and the passing of the Guidelines into their laws.
The IMO Legal Committee called on further states to answer the survey, and for the responses to be analysed, and for the analysis be reported back to the next session of the Legal Committee in 2015.
Commenting on the outcome of the meeting, Deirdre Fitzpatrick, Executive Director of SRI said: “Fair treatment of seafarers has been at the core of the work of SRI since its start up. The recent tragic incident of the South Korean ferry disaster Sewol, and the heart breaking loss of life, has been exacerbated by an apparent rush to judgment and early condemnation of the master and the crew. What we seek is a fair and just process in accordance with the Guidelines in every case.”
She added, “It is not just high profile incidents that affect seafarers. Seafarers face many risks crossing maritime boundaries on a daily basis, and knowing that they will be accorded fair and proper treatment will make the profession more attractive for new recruits.”