Tasman Spirit Tanker Crew Held For Six Months-Now a Human Rights Issue

The American Club, the vessel?s P&I Club, called for the crew?s immediate release, saying there was no justification for denying them their liberty. The Club also denied reports in the Pakistan press that the vessel was unseaworthy, saying it met all classifications and inspection requirements.

The four Greek and two Filipino crew members of the tanker and a Greek salvage master were originally arrested after charges were brought against them by the Karachi Port Trust (KPT) for their alleged negligence in handling the ship. They were later freed on bail, but have been detained in a Karachi hotel ever since.

?The health of the men may be permanently affected. This is now a human rights issue requiring immediate resolution before these men are damaged further, along with the standing and reputation of Pakistan in the international community,? said the Club.

It went on to criticize the Pakistan Government and the KPT for ?directly linking the liberty of these men to issues of compensation. An extraordinary situation that is illegal under international law.?

Pakistan has steadfastly refused to budge on the issue of releasing the detainees despite significant diplomatic efforts by the Greek Government and European Union, along with the vessel?s owners, insurers, and the maritime community in general.

A number of parties in Pakistan have submitted claims against the vessel?s owners totaling more than $7.7 billion. The Club said that it has either paid or committed to pay in excess of $35 million in clean up, salvage and wreck removal costs.

The Club added that it had made an offer to the Pakistan Government as far back as October, 2003, that it would make funds available through the 1992 Civil Liability Convention despite the fact that Pakistan is not a signatory to it or any other international oil spill compensation convention.

The Club said that the accident was in no way related to the condition of the vessel. Decisions take by the pilot as well as Pakistan authorities, the weather, and the condition and depth of the channel as well as the accuracy of the charts will be the determining factors to the accident?s ultimate fault.