Seafarers on Criminal Charges – Survey Reveals Unfair Treatment

Maritime Activity Reports, Inc.

April 20, 2012

Seafarers' Rights International survey of 3,480 seafarers shows unfair treatmnet, intimidation, lack of legal representation & interpretation

The survey by international legal research centre Seafarers’ Rights International (SRI) of 3,480 seafarers in the 12 months to the end of February 2012 was conducted in eight languages, with responses returned from 18 countries and 68 different nationalities of seafarers.

Of the seafarers surveyed, 8% had faced criminal charges; 4% had been witnesses in criminal prosecutions, while 33% knew of colleagues who had faced criminal charges. Almost 24% of masters in the survey had faced criminal charges.

Questions in the survey specifically asked about the experiences of seafarers who had faced criminal charges. 44% of seafarers reported that they were bodily searched. 87% who faced charges relating to the discharge of their professional duties said that they did not have legal representation; 91% of seafarers who needed interpretation services said that they were not provided with such services; and 89% of seafarers who had faced criminal charges said that they did not have their rights explained to them.

Seafarers were also specifically asked about their perceptions. 80% who had faced criminal charges felt intimidated or threatened. Concerning casualty inquiries and accident investigations, 46% of seafarers who answered the question said that they would be reluctant to cooperate fully and openly with such inquiries. Reasons expressed included: “The information that I would provide might be used against me”; “I would fear incriminating myself”; “Anything you say can be used as evidence against you”.

Overall, 81% of seafarers who faced criminal charges did not consider that they had received fair treatment.

The full report of the survey will shortly be available on SRI’s website.

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