Indian seafarers abandoned in Namibia for months seek justice, threaten suicide

Eight Indian seafarers employed by Indian vessel owner Halani have been left stranded without wages for months, which is taking a toll on their wellbeing, with some of them even threatening to commit suicide.

Halani 1 / Image source: Halani1.com

UK-based charity Human Rights at Sea (HRAS) has this week released a detailed report on how Halani “deliberately” abandoned the crew in Namibia aboard the offshore vessel Halani-1, with unpaid wages and insufficient provisions. The crew is suffering from fatigue and mental health problems.

According to VesselsValue data, the vessel was chartered by the French oil major Total, between September 2016, and March 2017. It is not clear who was the next client for the vessel, as some crew was hired in late 2017.

HRAS has said that the first recorded notification of abandonment was April 27, 2018, and the remaining crew is without wages nine months on.

Some of the crewmembers, the report says, have been onboard for over two years, with “some indicating very worryingly that two of their number were prepared to commit suicide over the non-payment.”

The vessel’s insurance has reportedly expired and there are no medicines on board, with food now being supplied by the Namibian Court.

As per the International Labor Organization, the “owner is having financial problems as they can’t come up with payments to seafarers on-board. They did pay off some of their other fleet vessels. But the seafarers on-board the [ Halani-1 ] have not been paid since November last year.”

HRAS: Most cases involve Indian seafarers

Capt. Amarjit Singh Bajwa said Halani International “has seriously violated our human rights by not providing us enough food, not paying our wages and not allowing us to go home after we have completed our contracts.”

“l have a crew member on board who is now in the 24th month of his service, as against his contract of 6 months.”

“The owner has pursued this strategy of labor against seafarers in the past 2 years, including vessels in India and he seems to be getting away with it.

“Considering that the crew members are Indians, the owner is also Indian, the contracts have been signed in Mumbai, we ask ourselves how come the government of India and Director General of Shipping in India have taken no action against the shipowner? We ask for justice to prevail.”

Human Rights at Sea has said it remains committed to continuing to publicly showcase abusive labor and human rights practices towards crew from the first—hand perspective of front—line seafarers and who, in this case, have directly appealed to the charity for help when all other legal avenues and official channels have apparently failed to resolve the matter.

“The charity further finds it concerning that in all of our latest publicly available case studies, the abandoned crew are predominantly Indian seafarers. This begs the question of what is the level and detail of State scrutiny and commercial ship manager due diligence checks into the seafarer recruitment process in India, reflecting implementation of the 2011 UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, at the very least?

Offshore Energy Today has reached out to the shipowner seeking info on what is being done for the situation to be remedied. We will update the article if we receive any response.

You can read the full PDF report by HRAS including with the crew’s personal take on the whole situation on the HRAS website.

Offshore Energy Today Staff

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