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V.Ships' Giorgi calls for seafarers' rights reform

THE shipping industry must use the momentum generated by the return to India of the Hebei Two to push through meaningful reform of seafarers’ rights in the case of casualties, V.Ships president Roberto Giorgi said today. Freshly returned from Mumbai and Chennai, where he attended “very emotional, joyful” receptions welcoming back Jasprit Chawla and Syam Chetan, he said the Indian maritime cluster was fully behind reform. “The impression I had was that shipping people in India, from government bodies to class societies, owners to managers, lawyers to representatives of the ITF and training and nautical institutes, were all saying the same thing.” He said the international shipping industry should be similarly unified in seeking to ensure that there not more cases like the Hebei Spirit. “There are three phases in this. The first is to get the guys back, which we have done. The second is to clear their names, which we are working on. And the third is to push as an industry for stronger International Maritime Organization guidelines, through a draught of international law that we can pass to the IMO.” Mr Giorgi said in particular that any new regulation must look to eliminate unfair detention in the case of casualties, and to reinforce the principle that seafarers too are innocent until proven guilty, and should have access to bail. It should also establish an international legal standard in such cases. Intermanager has already set up a seafarer criminalisation committee headed by V.Ships’ Brian Martis, which is combing through national legal statutes in order to sort and categorise the different legal approaches to casualties. The organisation hopes to involve other powerful industry groupings that were key players in the Hebei Two campaign. “This is just the beginning, he said, adding that a swift response was critical, both to take advantage of the momentum generated by the Hebei Two case and to forestall similar cases in the future. “Not every seafarer has a company that will back him, or a P&I club that responds as eagerly as Skuld or a law firm as enthusiastic as Ince & Co,” Mr Giorgi said.

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