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Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Shipping world protests at unfair detention of seafarers in Korea

INTERTANKO has joined with BIMCO, ICS, ISF, Intercargo, ITF, IG and HKSOA (see below) to issue a strong protest at the unfair and unjust detention in Korea of the Master and Chief Officer of the Hebei Spirit. The protest has been lodged with the Korean Ambassador in London and with Korea's Permanent Representative at the IMO, and has been sent out to press and media worldwide.


We urge our members to spread this protest to other relevant authorities including the Korean Embassy in their city.


"Organisations from across the world's shipping industry today issued a vigorous joint protest at the continuing unjust and unreasonable detention of two merchant ships' officers from the tanker Hebei Spirit who were recently acquitted by a South Korean court as being innocent of all charges of violating the nation's ocean pollution law, following last year's oil spill when a floating crane collided with the Hebei Spirit.


We - the Round Table of international shipping associations (BIMCO, International Chamber of Shipping (ICS), International Shipping Federation (ISF), INTERCARGO and INTERTANKO), the International Transport Workers' Federation (ITF), the International Group of P&I Clubs (IG), and the Hong Kong Shipowners' Association - wish to convey to the government and authorities of the Republic of Korea our surprise, disappointment and great concern at the news that Korea's courts have determined to continue to detain the ship's officers, despite their acquittal, for possibly as long as a year pending further hearings. Such measures appear to be unjustified, unreasonable and in contravention of the men's rights. We strongly believe that they should be permitted to leave the country.


We remind those responsible for the continued detention of Captain Jasprit Chalwa and Chief Officer Syam Chetan that the trial determined that another vessel which had been towing the floating crane which struck the anchored tanker was wholly responsible for the incident. Despite this finding they have continued to be detained, notwithstanding their own and their employers' assurance that, should a further trial take place, they would attend it.


The two officers have been detained in Korea since 7 December and we believe from recent experience in similar cases that such continued unjust detention may well affect the physical and mental health of the two men. This could be avoided by permitting them to return home now to their families until such time as they are needed to assist any further investigation in Korea.


As an industry serving international society, we remain committed to protecting the environment and to the prompt and thorough investigation of accidents at sea. We are committed to bringing to justice those involved in intentional actions that may damage the marine environment.


However, we cannot and will not support the criminalisation of seafarers, nor unjust, unreasonable and unfair treatment that is contrary to the principles agreed to worldwide in the United Nations' International Maritime Organization (IMO) and International Labour Organization (ILO) Guidelines on the Fair Treatment of Seafarers in the Event of a Maritime Accident.


We appeal to the Government of the Republic of Korea to take the necessary action to ensure that the seafarers are immediately permitted to return to their homes."


Contact: Bill Box