Seafarer abandonment was the subject of a seminar held at IMO Headquarters
Seafarer abandonment was the subject of a seminar held at IMO Headquarters, London (22 June) – a joint IMO-Consular Corps of London event. IMO says diplomats and consular officers involved in dealing with abandonment cases heard speakers provide a variety of perspectives on the subject, including on the legal framework, seafarer support, the representation of seafarers' interests, and the flag State perspective.
In his opening remarks, IMO Secretary-General Kitack Lim emphasized that continued cooperation between IMO, organizations such as the International Labour Organization (ILO), flag States, port States and shipowner groups was essential. "We have a human duty to protect seafarers, and we must not hide from it" Mr. Lim said.
The legal framework surrounding seafarer abandonment was presented by members of the IMO legal team, headed by Director Fred Kenney. Topics included a system overview by Jan de Boer focusing on the joint IMO-ILO database on reported incidents of abandonment of seafarers – a tool that is helping to provide a basis for solving abandonment cases.
Additionally, IMO guidelines on fair treatment of seafarers were introduced by Aicha Cherif. IMO strongly encourages States to implement these guidelines, which cover a series of measures covering seafarers' rights in the event of an accident, including in cases where a seafarer is detained by public authorities.
The abandonment seminar came ahead of Sunday's International Day of the Seafarer (25 June) taking place under the theme SeafarersMatter. This year, the event is funded by the ITF Seafarers' Trust. ITF were represented at the abandonment seminar by Katie Higginbottom, who gave an insight into the reality of dealing with abandonment cases on the ground, and how ITF inspectors work to help abandoned seafarers with issues such as collecting back pay.
Participants also learned about the unique role of the port chaplain from representatives of the Mission to Seafarers.