News eDaily20 Sep 2017

IUMI - More needs to be done for fairer treatment of seafarers in accidents

| 20 Sep 2017

A high level code of investigative conduct should be developed for maritime nations in order to have a more transparent and efficient process when dealing with maritime accidents in sovereign waters, said Captain Jonathan Walker of the London Offshore Consultants in the Political Forum workshop during the second day of IUMI 2017 yesterday morning.

Speaking on the topic "Government intervention impacting the cost of claims", Captain Walker said that while the industry acknowledges the sovereign right of authorities to conduct investigations, detention and long delays still occur which may be caused by a slow investigative process, convoluted laws and emotive local issues which may lead to the criminalisation of seafarers.

Crucially, in some cases, the grounds for such detentions have not been clear to the seafarers being detained or to the international maritime community, he added.

Captain Walker offered several suggestions which include a unified approach by the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) to develop a marine investigation code to ensure greater transparency, as well as a call for the IMO and ILO to develop early release procedures for seafarers under investigation by member countries.

He added that many seafarers suffer emotionally and financially from the long detention of vessels, and much more needs to be done to protect them from unfair incarceration.

He also encouraged marine insurers to be more proactive in maintaining regular conversations with government officials, as appointed officials may change quite frequently in certain jurisdictions. 

Both insurers and governments should also ensure that those dealing with marine casualties have the requisite knowledge and experience, as a lack of expertise would increase cost dramatically.

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