Panama seeks UN's International Maritime Organisation mediation
PANAMA, whose flag flies over 8,500 ships of 230 million tons - 16 per cent of the world's fleet - employing 318,000 seafarers wants help from the UN's International Maritime Organisation in freeing crewmen trapped on ships in China, reports Hellenic Shipping News Worldwide
17 March 2021 - 19:00
In a letter to IMO secretary general Kitack Lim, Panamanian Maritime Affairs Minister Noriel Arauz said the situation was particularly acute in the case of 74 vessels and more than 1,500 crewmen confined in ports and waters of China.
These vessels are fully loaded with imported coal from Australia. The facts have been disclosed by different media and although the shipowners have sent requests to the governments of China and Australia, their condition has not changed.
' Our mission is to find a reasonable solution for the crew to return home. Let us remember that on September 21, 2020, the IMO Maritime Safety Committee recommended measures to facilitate changes in ship crews, access to medical care and travel,' he said.
Mr Arauz added that the IMO's diplomatic powers ' can help us expose before the competent authorities that due to a commercial disagreement, the human rights and well-being of the crews of these ships are being ignored' .
In a commercial dispute or disagreement, the crews should not be involved, nor should their disembarkation be prevented, especially if their employment contract has expired or they are on board against their will, he said.
'Additionally, under no circumstances shall the Member States of the Maritime Labour Convention deny the right of repatriation to any seafarer, due to the financial circumstances of the shipowners or the incapacity or unwillingness to these to replace a seafarer, in accordance with the provisions of Standard A126.96.36.199 'Repatriation' of the aforementioned Agreement,' said Mr Arauz.
Mr Arauz reaffirmed the commitment of the Panama Maritime Authority to work jointly with the IMO, strengthening and promoting cooperation mechanisms that allow the maritime industry and its related activities to continue to be a fundamental pillar in social and development sustainable economic worldwide.
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