Liberia’s Permanent Representative to the International Maritime Organization (IMO) Moses Owen Browne has called for a concerted effort from all and sundry to ensure that seafarers are protected and their welfare improved.
In his address at programs commemorating the London International Shipping Week under the auspices of the Seafarers Rights International, Browne reminded maritime stakeholders about the significant role played by Seafarers in global trade emphasizing the need to improve their security and safety.
The London International Shipping Week is the 'must-attend event of 2021, offering over 150 industry functions and unique networking opportunities for leaders across all sectors of the international shipping industry – regulators, charterers, ship owners, ship managers, bunker suppliers, lawyers, shipbrokers, bankers, insurers, insurance brokers.
“It is important to note that Seafarers’ Welfare is an often-overlooked aspect of international shipping, and this must stop," he sounded. That is why, he said, the well-being of seafarers serving on Liberian registered ships is a cardinal concern of the Government 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," he said.
He informed the forum that Liberia has incorporated in its maritime laws and is scrupulously enforcing the International Labour Organization (ILO)’s Maritime Labour Conventions, which seek to protect seafarers' rights. As the first to ratify MLC 2006, he said, Liberia is consistently leading the way in pushing for overall ratification. “Seafarers can bring claims through the courts in any appropriate jurisdiction (including the U.S.) and are not limited to the courts in Liberia," he said.
As a country with immense international maritime capacity, Liberia, he mentioned 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," he said.
“This is not something to which Liberia simply pays lip service. We want all seafarers to be safe and happy," he indicated. The Liberian registry, he lamented, has launched an online Seafarer Complaint procedure which allows 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 the COVID-19 pandemic continues to wreak havoc across the globe with global trades affected, Browne reckons that there could be no better time to discuss the welfare of seafarers. “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.
He commended the International Maritime Organization (IMO), and other international bodies for the introduction of a Crew Change Policy that allows ship crew changes and travels to take place safely during the COVID-19 pandemic. On behalf of the President of the Republic of Liberia, H.E. Dr. George Manneh Weah, he said Liberia reaffirms its fullest cooperation, support, and commitment to implementing the Maritime Labor Convention of 2006, achieving decent work for all seafarers and thereby ensuring maximum protection.