Press Release: Human Rights at Sea comments on Indian judicial sentence of MV Seaman Guard Ohio Crew

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.



Read Human Rights at Sea 2015 Seaman Guard Ohio Case Study


Basic CMYKHuman Rights at Sea

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.



Twitter: @hratsea

51 thoughts on “Press Release: Human Rights at Sea comments on Indian judicial sentence of MV Seaman Guard Ohio Crew

  1. Well said, I hope after all the men are freed that someone is able to take AdvanFort to task for their total lack of regard for 35 human beings plus recompense for their lost income.


    1. Imagine the excitement in bringing a foreign ship full of ex military with guns and ammo….. or being the trial judge…. the kudos…. common sense will prevail on this…albeit slowly.
      Think about the responsible folks who employed 35 people, ask why they didn’t have insurance to cover the salaries of detained employees and legal fees or a get out of jail card from a government, lets be honest armed anti-piracy patrols are a necessity in more than 1 place globally, Navy’s are involved also its a needed service right? Using a vessel registered in an obscure country is an old smugglers trick to hide the real owners or duty/tax.
      Note to the navigator and captain : record EVERYTHING in parallel and keep copies replicated in the cloud (ideally US or European cloud based). add 50 nm to borders. Have prior agreement with country governments to enter their Waters. No agreement – no entry.
      In future leave Indian bound cargo to fend for themselves if pirates approach.


  2. The CEO of Advanfort is spineless and if anyone should go to jail it should him. The CEO is the Accountable Manager and you have a responsibility to those you employ. Name the Top Management and shame them via Social Media.


  3. Shocking news by the Indian Government – the UK Govt pressure should be applied and if that does not achieve a result than the UK should review immediately the amount of funding that is given to the Indian Govt.


  4. It sounds to me that the Indian government has charged the crew of this ship of being on a floating arsenal as they where a force there to
    protect lawful shipping from pirates , and the arrest of this crew sends out a message to the pirates that they are immune to prosecution from Indian justice and have the help of the Indian government by them arresting crews that are there to see to not letting lawful ships being hit by pirates . this arrest of the ship means that the INDIAN GOVERNMENT CONDONES THE ACTS OF PIRATES


  5. I am an Indian. Well you see, India has been repeatedly attacked in the past by seafaring terrorists. Weapons have been smuggled into our country by coast. Supposedly decent foreigners like David Headley (American) and Peter Bleach (European) took advantage of our hospitality and wrecked havoc in our country. Search Google to know the illustrious history of these decent foreigners.

    The crew includes 12 INDIANS, who has been also jailed. So there is no racism at play here. The ship and weapons were registered at Sierra Leone (an obscure African country with essentially no laws), not USA. Even those weapons’ permits had expired at the time of arrest.

    The crew have the chance to appeal again and they are doing so. But the way this narrative is being played at UK looks like an attempt to arm twist India. What vested India has to imprison Britons? Publishing such remarks without any explanation or justification is not expected from a professional organisation.

    May I know what would have happened if a group of Indian “security professionals” aka mercenaries ventured into British Territorial Waters without British permits. They would have shot, may be even torpedoed.

    Britons should show their wrath to Advanfort, who has ran away from this mess.

    The subtle accusation of racism and subterfuge by the British people is unfortunate. Like I said, UK would been way more harsh if Indian mercenaries were held under similar circumstances.


      1. So now are you guys afraid of peasants? If we are just peasants, surely you guys can just come and take your men away. Oops, you don’t have the capability to do so.

        And stop lying about aid, we don’t receive any British financial aid anymore.

        Reading your English…did you ever went to school? You can’t even write your own native language properly. Sad.


      2. I see Kushal is at it again – now suggesting his English is better than others. He obviously has a significant chip on both his shoulders – his own postings displays a poor command of the English language. He is obviously unawre article 343 of the Indian constitution that confirms English as one of the two official languages – so he has no excuse. He is creating a diversion.
        Kushal is contributing nothing meaningful to the subject matter and keeps introducing other misleading statements as he is not able to respond adequately except to insult and criticise, the hallmarks of the misinformed and ignorant. If we continue to enter into dialogue with this “it” ……. then we simply are decending to the same level. Suggest we ignore it and its disjointed ramblings.


  6. Although i have no problem paying my donation to this cause,why do we need to get the money together at all ?. The British pay enough into the pockets of India , surely they can pay it out of this or stop the millions in payments to India altogether at least until this matter is resolved.


  7. Why is not more pressure being applied by the UK/USA governments. The boat is clearly identified a s a protection vessel – why are the Indians behaving this way?
    Perhaps the UK government should be reviewing their policy of financial donantions to the Indian sub-continent? ……and advising the public of the Indian Govt attitude. This is unacceptable behaviour.


    1. The ship was NOT a “protection vessel”. It was flying a flag of Sierra Leone (not USA) and the owner of the ship (Advanfort) is an Arab billionaire. Why aren’t you just stating the truth? India should not allow Arab militia vessels on her waters.


  8. The owner company should be compelled to fund all judicial proceedings until these men are freed. Why isn’t the US government acting? They are quick to use the law against UK banks, VW cars, BP, etc. Is their idea of justice purely self-serving?


  9. Perhaps the spinless David Cameron should make it clear that no more “foreign aid”(OUR money) will be given to any country which does not offer our citizens normal basic justice.I’m not holding my breath,are you?


  10. Hello geniuses, India DOES NOT receive any AID from UK anymore. As agreed earlier, it has been stopped from January 2016 (not in relation with this case).

    So, thankfully, UK does not have that leverage.


    1. Kushal, so sorry to disappoint you, but India does receive aid from the UK and I can fully understand why people are so upset about the fact.



        off topic but the UK would have released these folks either free or handed over to their own nations to decide if laws were broken.

        Either way a responsible and developed country behaves like this. A responsible and developed country doesn’t builds 554 coal power stations when the grownup countries are closing them down at great cost to the populous i.e. me.

        its such a shame India behaviour is like this, maybe its growing pains but I’ll say that with confidence… eh maybe not THAT off topic afterall…….

        Liked by 1 person

  11. Kushal… are incorrect. An American sailing vessel was attacked several years ago and the four people on board were all murdered. This was well documented at the time. Whilst the Tamil Tiger situation is allegedley resolved threats are still emanating from the area. Importantly, the Indian Govt should be able to differentiate between good armed forces and the bad. The protection vessel is well known and clearly identified. Just how does the Indian Govt expect to benefit from this? Would it be unrealistic to expect native Indians to lobby on behalf of the crew that are now innocent victims? The IG should be deeply ashamed.


    1. Check the posts. Your fellow countrymen are the ones who resorted to insults first. I never said anything insulting to you. I was replying to the user “bazz”. You call me ignorant, but even a cursory glance reveals that your English spelling is quite poor.

      You couldn’t say why the ship was flying the flag of Sierra Leone? You are the one denying that UK have stopped financial aid (it’s on BBC). Do you even have any sources to prove that India is still receiving financial aid?

      Anyway, you can ignore “rambling” of Indians. But don’t expect Indian courts to do so.



  12. Kushal, once again you are incorrect….. UK aid should be stopped but your government is accepting further aid again (2016). Last year India received £280m. This is a typical misinformed uneducated response. Incidently, it is January 2016 presently. What you should have said is that financial aid is being stopped (its not, by the way) and is instead being replaced by technical aid!! Most people shall have the capacity to appreciate that technical aid also costs money. Unbelievable that some people cannot appreciate this – no wonder the people on the boat were convicted.


    1. Those “technical aid” is supposedly used for poverty alleviation programs in remote villages. India is not going to receive any hi-tech from UK. What a huge joke! We can all see the real reason here. By spending a meager amount (30 million GBP) UK gets to feel good about itself, and also gets a chance to lecture India. Don’t tell me that UK is suddenly getting concerned about poor Indian villagers. Frankly, this aid is insulting. I don’t know why the Indian Government doesn’t bluntly refuse to accept the “help”.

      Your country has a huge, mega luxurious office in New Delhi, for administering UK aid. So, the money really does not get stolen by corruption. It’s a really nice life for the British staff posted there though. They get to worry about India’s poor while drinking tea and playing pool, with servants on stand by to take care of their every need.


      1. I wonder if this is the same India that is ignoring international climate change reduction programs instead building 554 NEW Coal power stations as of Jan 2016 (I kid you not) Basically taking their international ambassadorship from the Americans e.g. F*** You!

        Maybe the Queen might decide to take india back so we can sort it out (again)….

        “India is in the midst of a rapid expansion in coal-fired power plant capacity. According to a study by Prayas Energy Group, 590,000 megawatts (MW) of projects have received or are expected to receive environmental clearance.[1] The table below provides information on 554 proposed projects representing 617,399 MW of capacity and an estimated 3.7 billion tons of annual carbon dioxide emissions”

        Love from HQ


      2. Kushal…. if you were representative of the typical Indian then your country would be in even more trouble than it is. There is nothing so like an ungrateful brat.
        Your country has massive resources yet what does it meaningfully do for its downtrodden castes? Just why do you have such crushing poverty? Because your Govt does not look after its people as well as it could…. where is your infrastructure (see following post about power station emissions). Besides China your country has a massive detrimental impact on global emissions – at least places like USA / Europe etc are addressing these.
        Have a look at your social welfare system – if you can find it.
        However, we digress. What are YOU going to do about the injustice carried out out by your Govt that was the original subject matter? Why dont you pick up the baton and start a campaign for justice and get yourself onto the international stage as a result?


      1. No issues Chris…..I wish the BBC statement was correct in its entirety. Sadly, the UK Govt is now providing cash under another guise – this time called aid as well as technical assistance – which includes significant payments to train Indian staff. Sadly, these payments are set to continue for at least another ten years. The difference is that the names attached to the money is changed – but the money keeps rolling out. This funding was supposed to ceased the year before but India still received £280m officially in 2015. What I find frustrating is the absence of UK Govt action to help the Indian Govt see common sense regarding these guys. Having other people placing statements denying the facts just establishes their own ignorance – its ok for them to be nationalistic but when they then try and distort the facts and start trying to play the racial card…….. they adeuately display their own position.


      2. I hear you. Slightly different to the topic at hand this outfit running shipping protection look too amateur to me check out youtube. still the development funding in the UK is over £2bn. it costs £700n to run the country so whilst its a lot its not as a percentage. This funding is all we have left of the empire. its our chance to build trade relations with emerging countries. India whilst 3rd/developing has a huge gap between middle class and poor. As they get richer they get more cocky. Capturing this ship is international posturing (remember green piece and russia oil rigs couple of years ago) its dick waving basically.
        of bigger concern is the f-you attitude to climate change 554 coal fired power stations under construction in india actually since 2011. China has the same issue – they need huge amounts of power for their emerging populous. Very interesting to learn we still make payments under a different agency…… I wonder what the ROI actually is.

        Anyway last update from me as I need to solve cancer this afternoon 🙂


      3. Good luck the Big C ….also went through that a few years ago.
        The one matter that gets overlooked with the environmental issue is not just on power generation and the inefficiency of coal fired power station its ‘why is the power needed?’ – Perhaps the root cause is the massive population that continues to grow unabated and with numerous families continuing to produce > 5 children per marriage, often exceeding eight children. Its not a case of legislation but one of education. Regardless that one poster believes the label ‘Third World’ is insulting, the reality shall not be changed. Education in countries with excessive population growth need improved education. Regardless, what can we do about this gross miscarriage of justice? Even is half a dozen of us each wrote to our MP’s – every one of ’em.

        Liked by 1 person

  13. I read above it is a vessel owned by a wealthy Arab. If so, and if the authorities want to get at him, simply impound the vessel without compensation. Job done. He won’t send any more such vessels around their coasts and the impounding is his ‘fine’. In the ranking on board ship, only the Captain and his First Officer can make executive decisions on operational matters, so only they might be responsible for any action or operation that the IG object to. The seamen could have been let off with a stiff caution.


  14. Imagine the excitement in bringing a foreign ship full of ex military with guns and ammo….. or being the trial judge…. the kudos…. common sense will prevail on this…albeit slowly.
    Think about the responsible folks who employed 35 people, ask why they didn’t have insurance to cover the salaries of detained employees and legal fees or a get out of jail card from a government, lets be honest armed anti-piracy patrols are a necessity in more than 1 place globally, Navy’s are involved also its a needed service right? Using a vessel registered in an obscure country is an old smugglers trick to hide the real owners or duty/tax.
    Note to the navigator and captain : record EVERYTHING in parallel and keep copies replicated in the cloud (ideally US or European cloud based). add 50 nm to borders. Have prior agreement with country governments to enter their Waters. No agreement – no entry.
    In future leave Indian bound cargo to fend for themselves if pirates approach.


  15. Kushal – you keep making statements and have introduced race into the conversation – wholly inappropriate; perhaps you have an ulteriormotive for making such a statement. You mention that if an indian armed ship entered BTW it would possibly be torpedoed. Utterly ridiculous – that last happened when the Belgrano threatened the British task force after Argentina effectively declared war on UK by invading British territory. Britain does generally defend its territory and that of adjacent international waters – perhaps if India would take a greater international interest and responsibility then well identified (you were wrong on that level as well!) protection vessels would not be required.
    Be careful when you make sweeping accusations…………


    1. Indian waters does not a have a problem of piracy. Indian Navy defends Indian territorial waters against pirates quite well. Even British news websites mention that the ship was meant to fought Somalian pirates, NOT “Indian pirates”.

      Your assertion that Indian waters have a piracy problem is completely untrue.


  16. Kushal,
    I can quite see why you might be irritated by some of the frankly racist/bullying/hectoring comments made by ill informed Brits concerning the Independent Indian Courts System (modeled on & probably not that much different than the Independent UK & US Courts System) & by those making the comments linking any decision by an independent judge it to the Foreign Aid Budget given by the UK Taxpayers assisting Charitable Projects in India (my daughter from Scotalnd is currently working on one of them near Chennai in Southern India).
    In reply, however, you have equally made some ludicrous comments, somehow suggesting that a ship containing Indian Mercenaries employed to defend ships in International Waters would be torpedoed if they entered British Waters! Quite frankly, unless they were considered a likely major terrorist threat, that is that last thing that is EVER likely to happen.
    Nevertheless to UK & US citizens, this case does seem extraordinary & we are completely mystified at the lack of common sense being applied by those in authority in India. We can only come to the conclusion that the Indian Court System is perhaps incompetent (much like our own system is sometimes) or those in authority & influence in India are hell bent on using this case as “bargaining chip” in some other international negotiation process?!
    Why is the Indian judiciary so hell bent on imprisoning all these crew members? The fault seems to lie with the owners of the ship (who we are led to believe is an Arab) & and those on executive authority on board the Ship. Knowing that in essence, those in possession of the firearms on board the ship were not seeking to break or flout Indian Gun licensing laws but were more likely caught in a bureaucratic mess not of their making, why did the Indian government not use its influence to lean on the prosecuting authorities to simply prosecute those in executive authority & responsible for the blunder?
    In the UK or USA, out of diplomatic niceties & knowing that these mercenaries put their lives at risk on ALL OUR BEHALVES’ IN THE WORLD to prevent pirates from stealing cargo that does not belong to them in international waters, it is more than likely that our police & prosecuting authorities would have simply deported the ship’s crew and then chased the owners of the ship/company to fine them for not complying with Indian gun licensing laws, with the threat of impounding the ship if they did not comply with the fines!
    The judge of course has to deal with the facts as presented in front of him and as others have pointed out, quite a number of Indian nationals have been imprisoned too for this same offence. From an Indian’s perspective, why should these non-Indian’s be treated any differently & no wonder many Indian’s will leap to the defence of their judiciary & treat many of the racist comments made in columns with deserved contempt?
    Nevertheless, these sentences are surely NOT in ANYBODY’S interest and what is appalling that the families of those imprisoned are having to raise money to fight an Appeal process, when their employers (or insurers if they had any?) should be doing it on their behalf.


    1. The UK Aid is becoming a huge problem. Why can’t UK mind its own business and leave India and her poor people alone. Everywhere, British posters are making condescending comments about UK Aid. In each and every India related article. We can not leave a single comment without getting an insulting reply about UK Aid.

      If British people holds us with this much contempt, then I strongly feel that British people should not expect fair treatment in India.

      Anyway, this is how USA treated an Indian female diplomat, when they found her breaching some rules:

      This is a much more serious incident. Not some frivolous problems with a diplomat’s Visa. And everyone is reporting from Advanfort’s point of view! If Indians breached American waters, we can imagine what would have happened.


  17. There is a reason why USA and UK is not intervening. You guys are just getting one side of the story. This is the real account:

    1) The heavily armed ship was flying the flag of Sierra Leone, not USA. What were they trying to hide? If everything was legit and above board, why were they not flying the flag of USA? Since the ship was registered in and flying the flag of Sierra Leone, USA can’t intervene.

    2) The ship and weapons were registered in Sierra Leone. Even those weapons’ licenses had expired. Permit issued in one country is NOT valid in a foreign country. This is basic common sense.

    3) Advanfort has an extremely poor reputation in the maritime security industry. They are facing investigations in USA and also facing severe cash-flow problems. The owner is an Arab.

    4) Advanfort said that the ship entered Indian waters to avoid Typhoon Phaillin. That’s clearly a lie. There was no typhoon in that area. Typhoon Phaillin happened in Phillipines, quite far away from Indian waters. When caught, Advanfort changed their stance and said that the ship was looking for fuel.

    5) After the arrests, Advanfort released numerous press statements denigrating India as a third world country whose prisons are not worth living. The actually mentioned the word “Third World Country”, in an official press release. The tone of insult in the press release was evident. (The owner failed to mention the condition of Arab prisons though…very convenient).

    6) All insurers refused to pay Advanfort and crew. Clearly, they found something wrong in their own investigations. After that, Advanfort washed their hands off the case, without even bothering to apologise.

    7) Advanfort spread reports that the Ukrainian Captain of the ship tried to commit suicide because of conditions in the Indian prison. It later turned out to be rumors.

    8) Advanfort (which includes crew members) at first didn’t cooperate when apprehended by Indian authorities about their weapons.

    It would have been one thing if it was a legit ship flying the flag of USA and the owner was not a follower of a particular “religion” (India has a huge problem with Islamic terrorism). But a mercenary ship flying the flag of Sierra Leone, owned by an Arab, roaming around India? After what happened in our country? No thanks. Indian authorities will deal with it appropriately.


    1. I’m not having a go here but how or were did you find this information as the BBC didn’t actually come up with hardly any of this they did touch on the US companies past dealings as somewhat shady I’m just interested as a personal friend of one of guys in question.


      1. Hi Gary…. Im not even bothering with this individual as his as his rudeness and self righteous attitude have more than a whiff of hyprocosy about them. You have valid points – I have read is that they were also armed with semi automatic weapons. That hardly constitutes heavily armed in the context of a ship. It is also noted that he ignores pertinent questions – simply beyond his capacity to process. He prefers to accuse others of racicism, poor spelling and grammar etc whilst failing to acknowledge his own shortcomings. This dialogue was supposed to be to raise the case profile and garner support for these guys but this character is turning it into something else.


      2. Well unfortunately some people read things incorrect and some are there just to cause as much shit as possible to whoever and because of that the whole thread went off the original subject of these men suffering a complete injustice in India which is sad very sad as the one individual that I know of these men is the most honest trusting person I probably know I trust him with my children and my life and his family are just broken because of this and the fact the British government have next to nothing to get these guys out.
        If prince Harry of David Cameron’s son was in this situation they would out within a day or at most a week which would certainly suggest that they are doing next to f**k all IMO.


      3. Hi Gary …. 100% correct and my sympathies are with these guys (all of ’em) and the travesty of justice that has taken place. You are also correct in that one character has hijacked the thread int a discussion about the Indian Govt and attempting to justify their incompetance. The conditions that have been reported that these men are suffering is also unacceptable. What can we do to raise the profile of this situation? ….. and to get back on thread.

        Liked by 1 person

  18. I have said what I wanted to say on BBC and you can read it or hear it, too bad if you don’t like it, as an ex-seafarer mine are observations and not opinions. Point here is that ITF funds collected largely from and on behalf of 3rd world seafarers are being selectively spent for the legal defence of dogs of war type of foreign mercenaries who by no stretch of imagination can be called “seafarers” beyond a seaman’s book from of all places Sierra Leone. Time the ITF got a grip on realities and stopped being such a rich people’s club representing more the interests of Flag of Convenience owners and foreign mercenaries whether carrying guns or not.

    Liked by 1 person

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