Maritime TV recently launched a new Internet TV program series entitled the Maritime TV Seafarer Criminalization Bulletin to highlight the abuse of Law, including lack of due process and other abuses for seafarers who face criminal charges in jails, worldwide.
The response worldwide has been overwhelming, internationally in support of this new series. Here is the second episode in the series, released October 23, 2013 detailing new specific cases where seafarers are being treated unjustly.
In particular, the case of the MV Seaman Guard Ohio has drawn mass global media attention in recent days. As of Wednesday, 22 of the 35 crewmembers on the detained U.S. ship were transferred from the Palayamkottai prison in Tamil Nadu to the Puzhal prison in Chennai for security reasons. Hundreds have already signed a petition to the Indian government demanding the immediate release of the crewmembers.
Mission to Seafarers (MtS) released the following statement today, after reports circulated that the organization was denied access to the detained mariners:
Whilst there is an on-gong investigation, which may well be complex because of conflicting statements issued by various interested parties, seafarers are being detained and as yet have had no access to any welfare facilities.
There have already been reports of a suicide attempt by one of the crew, and this just underlines the terrible ordeal that these seafarers are facing. No doubt they would appreciate, and be entitled to, pastoral counselling which The Mission to Seafarers’ port chaplain for Tuticorin has offered. His offer has not yet been successful in spite of a demonstrable need and hitherto excellent relationship between local authorities and MtS.
The MtS is concerned about the proliferation of arms and especially when in the hands of those untrained in their effective use. Disparate accounts of their certification, including end user licences, need to be sorted out, but in the meantime the seafarers must be cared for.
Best practice under the MLC 2006 clearly shows that welfare services are not a luxury but fundamental to the wellbeing of seafarers. Under stressful circumstances this is even more the case and the principle of easy access must be acknowledged.
Whether the seamen are guilty of any crimes or not is yet to be established, and we look forward to a wise and sound judgement from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Delhi, as part of the highly esteemed Indian government, which will help the Mission to find a solution, and to gain access for the chaplain to see the crew.
Ken Peters, director of justice and welfare, for MtS said: ‘India has a great maritime heritage and the nation has a deep understanding of life at sea. I am convinced that they care for seafarers and we appeal directly to the government to reflect on their care for those merchant mariners far from home.”