A meeting was held on 13 November in Manila, between senior government representatives from Asia’s leading maritime nations regarding the treatment of seafarers. Also present at the meeting was a large cross section of the Asian and international shipping community, from ship owners and casualty investigators, to prosecutors and auditors, as well as the seafarers themselves.
In addition to highlighting the plight of seafarers in general, the purpose of the meeting was to raise awareness of and address how best to achieve the “IMO Guidelines on Fair Treatment of Seafarers in the Event of a Maritime Accident”.
The IMO Guidelines were first put together in 2006 and set out guidelines for the treatment of seafarers by the port or coastal State, the flag State, the seafarer State and ship owners. The Guidelines also suggest a list of steps that a seafarer should take.
Further, it is not the intention of the Guidelines to interfere with any domestic, criminal or civil law, since they are voluntary in nature.
The meeting in Manila was organised by Seafarers’ Rights International and DOLE, the Philippines Department of Labor and Employment. What was agreed at the meeting is contained in the “Manila Statement”, which was issued shortly after the meeting.
According to the ITF’s general secretary, Mr. Stephen Cotton, who spoke at the meeting: “Now the hard work begins, we must create an implementation plan to roll out the statement to ensure that every seafarer feels the benefit of what has been agreed here today; that they receive fair treatment.”