Govt. Laments Seafarers’ Plight -Permanent Rep. Browne Calls for Swift Action; Ensures Continued Compliance
As the world’s second largest ship registry, Liberia has always maintained a proactive stance when it comes to adhering to the implementation of international protocols that guide the global Maritime Industry. Besides being the first country to ratify the International Labour Organization’s Maritime Labour Conventions (MLC 2006), Liberia has also incorporated in its maritime laws and is scrupulously enforcing the Maritime Labour Conventions (MLC), which seeks to protect seafarers’ rights, while pushing for overall ratification. But despite these gains made by the Liberian government in ensuring protection of seafarers’ rights the world over, the Liberian government says it is appalled by daily safety challenges that seafarers face from the threat of improper navigation, insecurity from piracy, hijacking, and other natural and human-induced risks.
“Excellencies, distinguished ladies, and gentlemen, I am highly honored to be a special guest on the occasion of the London International Shipping Week 2021 and at this important event organized by the Seafarers Rights International. I bring you greetings from the President H.E. Dr. George Manneh Weah and the peace-loving people of the Republic of Liberia, a key Actor in the international maritime sphere.
“Despite the entry into force of the Maritime Labour Convention and subsequent domestication worldwide, the mischief it seeks to cure- unfair labour practice against seafarers, is still prevalent. Seafarers are confronted with the menace of low wages, forced labour, limited or no rest periods, no leave period, poor medical condition, poor diet, and inadequate feeding, amongst others,” Liberia’s Permanent Representative to the International Maritime Organization (IMO) Moses Owen Browne, Jr. stated Thursday, September 16, 2021 at a program held in recognition of Seafarers’ Rights during the London International Shipping Week.
“This is not fair! This is unacceptable! This has to stop!!!” Mr. Browne further lamented.
Said Browne: “As we heard yesterday during the headline conference of the LISW 2021, there are thousands of seafarers still stranded on the high sea without any hope due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. The IMO and other international bodies have taken some actions to introduce crew change policy and other measures and at the same time designating seafarers as key workers during these turbulent times. However, more concerted and concrete efforts are needed from all nations.”
While reaffirming that seafarers are the central drivers of the world’s economy, Permanent Representative Browne noted with absolute certainty that without the resilience of seafarers, global trade would be severely stagnated, thereby resulting in scarcity of essential goods across the world.
“This indispensability of seafarers implies that their rights, protection, and safety are essential human rights concerns that must claim the attention of any well-meaning institution and nation – because they, too, deserve proper treatment to keep serving humanity as a whole and the world economy at large!!
“Ladies and gentlemen, and distinguished maritime practitioners, it is an open knowledge that seafarers are confronted daily with safety challenges from the threat of improper navigation, insecurity from piracy, hijacking, and other natural and human-induced risks. Despite the entry into force of the Maritime Labour Convention and subsequent domestication worldwide, the mischief it seeks to cure- unfair labour practice against seafarers, is still prevalent. Seafarers are confronted with the menace of low wages, forced labour, limited or no rest periods, no leave period, poor medical condition, poor diet, and inadequate feeding, amongst others.
“As we heard yesterday during the headline conference of the LISW 2021, there are thousands of seafarers still stranded on the high sea without any hope due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. The IMO and other international bodies have taken some actions to introduce crew change policy and other measures and at the same time designating seafarers as key workers during these turbulent times. However, more concerted and concrete efforts are needed from all nations.
“Excellencies, it is important to note that Seafarers’ Welfare is an often-overlooked aspect of international shipping, and this must stop. That is why the well-being of seafarers serving on Liberian registered ships is a cardinal concern of the Government and the people of the Republic of Liberia. As the second-largest ship registry and the world’s fastest-growing flag state within the maritime and shipping industry, Liberia takes serious exceptions to the inhumane treatment that all seafarers face and calls for an immediate end,” Mr. Browne stated emphatically..
Heralding Liberia’s Maritime Gains
As the country’s Permanent Representative to the world body that oversees maritime issues globally, Mr. Moses Owen Browne was quick to inform his distinguished colleagues that although the industry itself s challenged globally, especially with regards to the plight that seafarers face, yet Liberia has made monumental gains in addressing issues confronting seafarers.
“As a country with immense international maritime capacity, Liberia believes in protecting the welfare and the rights of the seafarers onboard its ships. This is a duty we owe seafarers working onboard our ships and to humanity at large. We can also proudly say that without the jealous protection of the rights of seafarers, the Liberian registry would not be as attractive as it is to responsible shipping lines across the world. I am pleased to assure the world today that there is no turning back for Liberia from being the very best ship registries in the world today, as we shall endeavor to put seafarers first when it comes to the consideration of the registration of any ship within our registry. This is not something to which Liberia simply pays lip service. We want all seafarers to be safe and happy.
“Distinguished ladies and gentlemen, we have launched an online Seafarer Complaint procedure which will allow seafarers to submit any complaints they might have using a form-based template. The Liberian Government, through the Liberia Maritime Authority, will follow up with individual seafarers who use this process, and it will provide any necessary guidance and recommendations.
“As I speak to you today, there are over 1.6 million active non-military seafarers worldwide. There is a need for the consolidation of efforts and the rigorous implementation of the MLC and other seafarers protection instruments to ensure seafarers are treated equitably.
“Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen, as I conclude my brief remarks, I can state affirmatively as a major flag-state, port-state, and coastal state, Liberia stands shoulder-to-shoulder in support of ongoing initiatives by the international community – without reservations – in pursuance of the rights of seafarers at all levels.
“On behalf of the President of the Republic of Liberia, H.E. Dr. George Manneh Weah, I would like to reaffirm Liberia’s fullest cooperation, support, and commitment to implementing the Maritime Labor Convention of 2006, achieving decent work for all seafarers and thereby ensuring maximum protection,” Permanent Resident Browne reaffirmed.