Posted: May 12th, 2023
Strengthening Seafarers’ Rights for Release and Repatriation
Strengthening Seafarers’ Rights for Release and Repatriation: Combating Piracy in African Coastlines
Seafaring is one of the most dangerous professions in the world, and piracy has made it even more dangerous. Piracy in African coastlines is a major threat to the safety and welfare of seafarers. Seafarers are often taken hostage for ransom, and their release and repatriation are often delayed due to various reasons. The International Labor Organization (ILO) has recognized the need to strengthen the rights of seafarers for release and repatriation, and various efforts are underway to address this issue.
In this article, we will discuss the challenges faced by seafarers in African coastlines due to piracy, the current legal framework for seafarers’ rights for release and repatriation, and the efforts made by various stakeholders to address this issue.
The Challenge of Piracy in African Coastlines
Piracy in African coastlines is a major problem that has been going on for decades. The Gulf of Guinea, which stretches from Senegal to Angola, is the most dangerous area for piracy in Africa. According to the International Maritime Bureau (IMB), the number of piracy incidents in the Gulf of Guinea has increased in recent years, with 130 reported incidents in 2020 alone. These incidents often involve armed attacks, kidnapping, and ransom demands.
Seafarers who are taken hostage by pirates often face dire conditions. They may be held captive for months or even years, and their physical and mental health may deteriorate. The conditions in which they are held may be unsanitary, and they may not have access to basic necessities such as food, water, and medical care.
Legal Framework for Seafarers’ Rights for Release and Repatriation
The legal framework for seafarers’ rights for release and repatriation is governed by international law. The International Maritime Organization (IMO) has developed guidelines for the treatment of seafarers who have been taken hostage by pirates. These guidelines provide a framework for the release and repatriation of seafarers and include provisions for their physical and mental well-being.
The ILO has also developed a number of conventions that protect the rights of seafarers. These conventions include the Maritime Labor Convention, 2006, which sets out minimum requirements for seafarers’ living and working conditions, and the Seafarers’ Identity Documents Convention, 1958, which requires countries to issue seafarers with identity documents.
Efforts to Strengthen Seafarers’ Rights for Release and Repatriation
Various efforts are underway to strengthen the rights of seafarers for release and repatriation. The Maritime Piracy Humanitarian Response Program (MPHRP) is a joint industry initiative that provides support to seafarers and their families who have been affected by piracy. The program provides counseling, medical care, and financial assistance to seafarers who have been released from captivity.
The Maritime Labor Convention, 2006, which has been ratified by over 90 countries, includes provisions for seafarers’ rights for release and repatriation. The convention requires shipowners to provide seafarers with a repatriation package that covers the cost of their return home. The convention also requires shipowners to have a plan in place for the repatriation of seafarers in the event of an emergency.
Piracy in African coastlines is a major threat to the safety and welfare of seafarers. Seafarers who are taken hostage by pirates often face dire conditions, and their release and repatriation may be delayed due to various reasons
Adeniran, T. A. (2017). Piracy and armed robbery at sea in the Gulf of Guinea: a thematic analysis of seafarers’ experiences. Journal of Transportation Security, 10(1), 19-34.
International Labor Organization. (2019). Seafarers’ rights to shore leave, access to shore-based welfare facilities and the prevention of ship abandonment: A general guidance. Geneva: International Labor Organization.
International Maritime Bureau. (2020). Piracy and armed robbery against ships. Retrieved from https://www.icc-ccs.org/piracy-reporting-centre/live-piracy-map
International Maritime Organization. (2020). Piracy and armed robbery against ships in the Gulf of Guinea. Retrieved from https://www.imo.org/en/OurWork/Security/PiracyArmedRobbery/Pages/Gulf-of-Guinea.aspx