During the IMO's Security Committee sessions held in London between May 28th and June 6, 2003, the United States praised the government of Panama for "aggressively exercising its jurisdiction" in the case of the Panamanian-flagged vessel WELL PESCADORES.
Three Dominican survivors' stowaways had accused the WELL PESCADORES' crew of beating and throwing overboard causing the drowning of two of the five persons who had stowed away aboard the vessel when it prepared to leave the port of Haina, in the Domincan Republic. Upon the survivors' arrival in Houston and after the stowaways' claims were reported to the US Coast Guard, the government of the United States and the government of Panama " began working closely to investigate the case and take appropriate action", said the US delegate.
Panama ordered that the vessel be detained in the port of Houston where it had arrived on March 28th. The vessel remained in Houston for 34 days. Panama sent investigators and prosecutors to the ship to determine the charged with murder and remain in jail.
The case of the WELL PESCADORES, where a working ship was detained for over a month and a number of crew members face criminal prosecution "should serve as a strong deterrent to those who seek to avoid their responsibilities by abusing stowaways", said the US delegate.
"Although this case presented numerous jurisdictional and logistical challenges to both the government of Panama and the United States, we believe that it is only through flag States and port States working
together that cases such as the WELL PESCADORES can be successfully resolved", declared the US delegate who requested that his statement be included in the Security Committee report.
Panama's representative at the IMO Security Committee, Panama Maritime Authority Deputy Administrator Capt. Luis Perez Salamero asserted that the case was "a serious misdemeanor to the survivors' and the victims' human rights, despite the fact that IMO's regulations and Panamanian penal
legislation clearly establish what should be the treatment given by crew members to secure the protection, health, food, delivery and repatriation of stowaways".
About the AMP: The Panama Maritime Authority (AMP) is the Panamanian autonomous agency, responsible for the compliance of international regulations, navigation controls and the obligations of Panama as a flag state and as such, oversees the world's largest merchant fleet.