Human Rights at Sea comments on Indian judicial sentence of MV Seaman Guard Ohio Crew
David Hammond, CEO Human Rights at Sea
For Immediate Release
It has been reported this morning that the principal sessions court in Tuticorin in Tamil Nadu, India, sentenced 35 crew members of the US anti-piracy vessel MV Seaman Guard Ohio to five years imprisonment. This includes six Britons.
Human Rights at Sea has yet to see the full judgment, but noting the case narrative to date and the competing and vested interests within India to be seen to take action, on the facts available at the time of writing this appears to be a travesty of justice for the ordinary crew-members who we understand were not aware of instructions being passed down from the employer, and who were otherwise simply doing their job.
Human Rights at Sea alongside a number of other UK welfare organisations including The Mission to Seafarers and Royal British Legion has always strongly campaigned for a fair and equitable hearing for all crew while respecting their human rights and avoiding unlawful deprivation of individual’s liberty.
It will now be for the instructed legal defence team to take a position, but we would expect an immediate appeal against these excessive concurrent sentences to the higher court.
Human Rights at Sea will be co-ordinating with other NGO, civil society and UK Government departments to assure that support is provided to the families involved, as necessary.
This case sends a stark warning in particular to the Private Maritime Security Industry and those who operate floating armouries in international waters, that the laws of foreign States must be known, briefed to the crew and respected as part of a voyage risk analysis and duty of care to all crewmembers. This is especially so when operating in and around any coastal States with a history of insurgency and terrorism.
Human Rights at Sea calls for immediate respective Government support to all crew sentenced today.
Human Rights at Sea is a Foundation Charitable Incorporated Organisation, (CIO) and Registered Charity, Number 1161673, based in England. Its aim is to explicitly raise awareness, implementation and accountability of human rights provisions throughout the maritime environment, especially where they are currently absent, ignored or being abused.