The number of seafarers facing criminal charges is certainly increasing. According to Seafarer's Rights International (SRI), the numbers of maritime criminal incidents and of detained seafarers increased for the 12 year period from 2000-2011. The study was based on a review of such incidents as reported in Lloyd's List, Tradewinds and Fairplay wherein 415 incidents were reported during said period involving 1,580 seafarers. A survey was also conducted by SRI during a 12 month period (2011- 2012) involving 3,480 seafarers which was conducted in eight languages and received responses from 18 countries and 68 different nationalities. The survey results are as follows: 8% - faced criminal charges; 4% - witnesses in criminal prosecutions; 33% - knew of colleagues who faced charges; 24% of masters in said survey faced charges; 44% - were bodily searched; 87% - did not have legal representation; 91% - were not provided interpretation services; 89% - said their rights were not properly explained to them; 80% who faced charges felt intimidated or threatened; 81% who faced charges said they were not treated fairly. Guilty or innocent, seafarers are entitled to due process under any legal system. This is a very serious concern which should be addressed by the entire maritime industry in order to protect seafarers worldwide.
Eduardo R. Meneses Jr. (firstname.lastname@example.org)