Human Rights at Sea declares every person at sea have the same rights as those on shores

By Anupama Vimal

The first version of the Geneva Declaration of Human Rights at Sea has been brought out with emphasis on creating a global awareness against human rights violation at sea and mobilising international effort to curb such menace.

In the declaration published by Human Rights at Sea, four fundamental principles with respect to human rights have been highlighted; Human Rights apply at sea exactly as they apply to land; At sea, everyone should have the benefit of Human Rights,Maritime rules do not allow derogation from HR procedures and standards, Global treaties and world laws should be respected. In the declaration, the Human Rights at Sea note that such a proclamation was necessitated as there was an increase of human rights abuse at sea. 

The declaration claims that many persons working at sea do not have the protection of the States and as such, they are abused. With respect to Human Rights violation, the Human Rights at Sea says that it includes fishers under slavery in fishing grounds, those trafficked for sexual slavery, those trying to escape from discrimination and conflicts, those who pay hefty for sailing for a better life in another country, sea fearers who have been left out on a foreign shore without any compensation or pay and sexual assault victims.

The declaration also shares the fact that no one cares about those who die or disappear at sea. On the other hand, the Declaration says that if a person goes missing or dies on land in violation of human rights, then it gets wide publicity and the authorities would have acted fast. Moreover, it says there was less policing at sea and lack of law enforcement agencies. As such, the authors of the proclamation say that a global acceptance of human Rights at Sea was the need of the hour. The States across the world have a primary duty of protecting the human rights of its citizens at sea and also for enforcing human rights standards. Noting that the countries have only limited jurisdiction of 12 nautical miles, they say that all the governments should recognise their extraterritorial responsibilities at sea. All the state governments should make efforts to address human rights abuse at sea. The governments should make sure that the persons at sea get the same right as those on the shores. 

In the declaration, the authors say that the world does not need any new law for keeping up human rights at sea. What one needs is to strengthen the existing laws and also to implement strictly, the Human Rights at Sea said. The declaration has been drafted by a team comprising Professor Anna Petrig (University of Basel, Switzerland), David Hammond (Human Rights at sea), Prof. Irini Papanicolopulu (University of Milano- Bicocca, Italy), Prof. Steven Haines ( Greenwich University, UK) and researchers Elisabeth Mavropoulou and Sayedeh Hajar Hejazi.

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