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SRI: Gov’ts Should Push for Fair Treatment of Seafarers

SRI: Gov’ts Should Push for Fair Treatment of Seafarers
International backing has been given to a new initiative from London-based Seafarers Rights’ International (SRI)

Which aims to harness the support of governments worldwide in implementing locally-binding legislation on the fair treatment of seafarers following a maritime casualty.

Representatives from more than 50 countries attended a workshop on the subject organized by SRI in conjunction with the International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF) and addressed by key speakers including Kitack Lim, Secretary General of the IMO.

Attendees discussed the key issue of guidelines on fair treatment of seafarers in the event of a maritime accident and explore ways these guidelines could be implemented into national legislation.

Deirdre Fitzpatrick, Executive Director of Seafarers’ Rights International, who opened the workshop, said the level of international support at the event across many stakeholder groups was important because it “mixed the practical effects of the guidelines with the legal aspects associated with their implementation.”

“We had a panel of three judges from the International Court of Justice, the Tribunal of the Law of the Sea and from the Supreme Court of the Philippines. We also had an emeritus professor of maritime law, a prosecutor, a Lead Auditor from the IMO as well as a casualty investigator from the UK’s Marine Accident Investigation Branch who discussed no-blame casualty investigations,” Fitzpatrick added.

Fitzpatrick further said that it is not often that the international law community is given the opportunity to discuss a crucial issue concerning seafarers’ rights in “such an informal but thought-provoking way.”

Whilst some governments have already given effect to the guidelines, it is important that other governments consider them and look at ways they can be introduced into their national legislation, Fitzpatrick stressed.

“We want to raise awareness of the Fair Treatment of Seafarers at international, regional and local levels, and advise on how best countries can implement the guidelines and have the right laws in place in the event of a maritime casualty investigation occurring in their jurisdiction. The next step will be to run regional workshops outside the UK, and we have already had offers from participants to host similar workshops in their own countries,” according to Fitzpatrick.

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