Round Table international shipping associations including INTERCARGO have a unified position on Fair Treatment of Seafarers.
Unfair treatment of seafarers (e.g. prolonged detention/imprisonment) by port/coastal States following maritime accidents not only affects the seafarers concerned but has a wider impact on the entire industry and ultimately on the efficient and effective service of world trade. Specifically, unfair treatment affects the general morale of seafarers worldwide and has a negative impact on recruitment and retention. Criminal sanctions for accidental pollution may impede accident investigations by discouraging open and full cooperation on the part of seafarers, compromising the ability to identify the cause and prevent recurrence in the future.
IMO/ILO “Guidelines on Fair Treatment of Seafarers in the Event of a Maritime Accident” were adopted in 2006 in response to a series of high profile cases where seafarers were detained and/or imprisoned following pollution accidents (including the Erika, the Prestige and the Tasman Spirit). Subsequent cases (e.g. Hebei Spirit) prompted IMO and ILO in 2011 to urge States to implement the Guidelines and abide by them in all circumstances where seafarers are detained.
In addition, there are other instances in the course of routine ship operations where seafarers are treated unfairly by port States and terminal operators, including the denial of shore leave and access to medical treatment as provided for under the FAL Convention, Maritime Labour Convention and WHO International Health Regulations.