Namibia: Abandoned Seafarers Plea for Justice

Credit: Human Rights at Sea
Credit: Human Rights at Sea

By The Maritime Executive 01-30-2019 12:02:46

Eight Indian seafarers have been abandoned on board the Halani 1 (flag State: St Vincent and Grenadines, IMO No: 7816379) between one and two years in Walvis Bay, Namibia. Some are suffering from fatigue and serious mental health problems.

The U.K.-based charity Human Rights at Sea says Captain Amarjit Singh Bajwa first contacted the charity’s Iran-based researcher, Hajar Hejazi, to appeal for urgent help. “We ask for justice to prevail,” he said.

The Halani 1 case has been registered on the IMO's abandonment database since last year having been first informed via the ITF, but in the last two weeks the charity has been contacted by the Master, as the issue of payment of outstanding wages has still not been rectified and P&I cover has lapsed. 

Welfare support has been provided by The Mission to Seafarers with Ben Bailey, Director of Advocacy and Regional Engagement, commenting: “We are extremely concerned for the crew’s mental health which is declining with each passing day. The crew have been let down on multiple occasions and have had promises of full wages and repatriation consistently broken. We urgently call on all parties to work together to find a solution. The seafarers on board must be repatriated immediately – they and their families are effectively being held captive and have suffered for far too long.”

Founder and Trustee of Human Rights at Sea, David Hammond, says the charity remains committed to continuing to publicly showcase abusive labor and human rights practices from the first-hand perspective of seafarers.

Here are some of those perspectives from the Halani 1 crew:

“We have been on board too long. The morale of the crew has been running low and the mental health is not good. Frequent arguments on issues, loss of temper at even the slightest excuse and general indifferent attitude are all part of our everyday lives.”

“My marriage date is getting postponed every time. Because of this my family members are under mental tension. I am mentally under stress and then I start talking loudly. If anything happens to me on board then who will be responsible for it? The Port authority is not allowing us to go home without relief. I am extremely worried about my home. My mother every time she speaks to me in a very sad voice, which I don’t like. I am constantly worried.”

“I am always under mental tension that in case if anything happens to me on board then who will be responsible. I come from a poor family, where along with my job I have to look after my family also. There are many problems at home. My children are college going and I do not have money to pay their fees. My mother is quite old and has many problems. I am very worried about my family as due to no salary and sign off my family might come on the road.”

“Since I have not received any cash advance I am finding it difficult to buy phone vouchers and I am not able to talk to my family frequently. My marriage was fixed but I have continuously been postponing it, because of which my family is greatly disturbed. My passport will be expiring on 26th Feb 2019. My mental state is not all right. I feel very stressed all the time. The ship’s insurance has also expired. So if anything was to happen to me then who will take responsibility for that?”

The Human Rights at Sea Case study is available here.