As we know, the difference between the captain of an aircraft and the captain of a ship is that when something goes wrong the aircraft captain gets sympathy while the ship’s captain gets prison. New IMO agreements on fair treatment still face an uphill climb but there are signs of progress.
A draft assembly resolution aimed at promoting compliance with the 2006 IMO/ILO Guidelines on fair treatment of seafarers in the event of a maritime accident was agreed by the Legal Committee when it met for its 98th session.
The draft resolution invites member states to consider amending their national legislation to give full and complete effect to the Guidelines on Fair Treatment of Seafarers and invites governments to respect the principles in the guidelines when considering fair treatment of seafarers in other circumstances where seafarers are detained.
The draft resolution notes that a number of incidents have taken place, since the adoption of the guidelines in 2006, in which seafarers on ships that have been involved in maritime accidents have been detained for prolonged periods, raising questions about whether they have been treated fairly in full accordance with the principles set out in the guidelines.
The draft resolution also recognizes that the guidelines should be implemented alongside the IMO Code of the International Standards and Recommended Practices for a Safety Investigation into a Marine Casualty or Marine Accident, which has been made mandatory by way of amendments to the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea, SOLAS, chapter XI-1, which entered into force on 1 January 2010.
The draft resolution reiterates the importance of the guidelines and invites member governments, as a matter of urgency, to bring this resolution to the attention of government officials, in particular those involved in the administration of justice, who may be involved in decisions and procedures affecting the treatment of seafarers involved in maritime accidents, as well as shipowners and seafarers and their respective organizations, and invites them to inform the Legal Committee of the means by which this request has been implemented.
The draft resolution will be submitted, through the IMO Council, to the IMO Assembly when it meets for its 27th session from 21 to 30 November 2011 and also to the International Labour Organization (ILO) Governing Body, which meets for its 311th session in June 2011.