Excessively severe treatment of seafarers by authorities in Russia and Venezuela

 In the latest issue of its StopLoss Bulletin, the London Club describes two instances of what could be considered excessively severe and wholly unjustified treatment of seafarers by customs officials and authorities in Russia and Venezuela.


A master who had forgotten to declare drums of Unitor descaling fluid on board (a commonly used cleaning fluid containing hydrochloric acid) was detained for 57 days at Novorossiysk charged with smuggling a toxic substance into Russia.


Two months of concerted action by the owner, the London Club, the Club's local correspondent and industry organisations and payment of a 'modest' fine eventually secured the master's release.


In Venezuela a master alerted the authorities to suspicious diving taking place near his vessel. A capsule containing 70 kg of cocaine was found attached to the ship's hull and the authorities promptly arrested the master and his crew and considered making criminal charges against them.


It took 36 days of intense effort through diplomatic, industry and legal channels to remove the threat of proceedings and potential imprisonment of the master, and to counteract the local political pressure that was apparently applied to attempt to secure his conviction.


Contact: Howard Snaith