hide message

Welcome to the Resource Centre

We make it our mission to work with advocates in civil society, business and government to address inequalities of power, seek remedy for abuse, and ensure protection of people and planet.

Both companies and impacted communities thank us for the resources and support we provide.

This is only possible because of your support. Please make a donation today.

Thank you,
Phil Bloomer, Executive Director

Donate now hide message

The plight of migrant sailors in the Gulf

The International Maritime Organisation (IMO) and the International Labour Organisation (ILO) keep records on these abuses. Worldwide, there are 4,866 seafarers on a total of 336 ships recorded as abandoned on board ship. According to the IMO, the majority of cases last between five and eight months. In recent years, there has been a sharp rise in these numbers.

Migrant seafarers in the Gulf face particularly precarious working environments because they tend to be excluded from social protections safeguarded by labour laws. Migrant sailors are thus even more vulnerable to abuse from their kafeel (sponsors). Seafarers are also subjected to harsh working conditions and have found themselves stranded at sea, suffering from malnourishment and restricted movement.

These articles document maritime human rights abuses committed by Gulf-based companies. The cases of abandoned seafarers onboard ships in the Gulf described below are: Faryal, Sharjah Moon, Ocean Pride, Janan, SL Star, MT Beta, MT Cityelite, MT Al Nouf and MT Laowdale. 

Business & Human Rights Resource Centre invited ALCO Shipping Services, one of the companies mentioned in the below reports, to respond to allegations of abuse. ALCO did not respond.

Get RSS feed of these results

All components of this story

11 September 2017

60 sailors return home, receive salaries after being stranded in UAE waters without pay for months

Author: Ismail Sebugwaawo, Khaleej Times (UAE)

“UAE gets stranded sailors back home, salaries paid”, 5 September 2017

The UAE's Federal Transport Authority (FTA) for Land and Maritime has helped 60 Asian sailors receive their payments and get back to their home countries after they were abandoned on stranded vessels. The authorities had intervened after the sailors on 14 ships from Asian countries complained about their suffering and difficulties from the non-payment of their salaries for many months. The sailors, on Pakistani, Indian and Sri Lankan vessels, had been abandoned by their companies on UAE waters and ports for months. Authorities said they communicated with the country of the ship's flag, the shipping agent and the owner of the vessel to address the suffering of the sailors, as they are responsible for the ships and the seamen, as per international agreements. In some of the cases, the maritime officials amicably settled the payment issues with the sailors, clearing their outstanding payments before transporting them back to their home countries. In other instances, the authorities took legal action against the ship owners to ensure that the workers' payment issues were resolved…"Some sailors refrain from reporting to the authorities in time because of the fear that their employers will take arbitrary measures against them, thereby delaying their payments with false promises," said officials.

Read the full post here

8 August 2017

Report: UAE-based ALCO denies sailors’ wages for 25 months, confiscates their passports leaving them stranded offshore

Author: Human Rights at Sea

“Breach of Indian Seafarers Human Rights & their Abandonment”, 2 July 2017

The [nine-member] crew of the MT Ocean Pride are currently stranded on an increasingly dangerous vessel, anchored off the coast of UAE. The MT Ocean Pride is an oil/chemical tanker owned by Alco Shipping Services…Throughout their ordeal, the crew have been denied access to proper and timely medical treatment. They have not been provided with suitable facilities, food, water…and their health and wellbeing has been severely damaged as a result…Despite repeated requests for help, the crew’s correspondence has been ignored, and their salaries not paid for 25 months…[Their] passports were [confiscated] from their sign-on date, and have not been returned despite repeated requests…There is insufficient Personal Protective Equipment on board…[and] fire extinguishers…have expired. In addition, the life boats are rusted and not safe to use, and…seawater is allegedly leaking into the engine room…

[The Business & Human Rights Resource Centre invited ALCO Shipping Services to respond, but has yet to receive a response]

Read the full post here

25 July 2017

Sharjah Moon Sailors Latest of Over 50 Indian Sailors to Return Home from UAE

Author: World Maritime News

The stranded Indian crew members of MV Sharjah Moon have finally returned home, India’s Consulate General in Dubai informed...

The sailors had been abandoned by the shipowner, who was refusing to cooperate on the matter... and had not been paid their salaries for over six months.

The repatriation was aided by efforts of the UEA’s Federal Transport Authority and CG Panama, in addition to the consulate’s team.

Read the full post here

18 July 2017

Report: Sailors stranded in the UAE, denied wages amid deteriorating health conditions

Author: Human Rights at Sea

“Human Impact of Denial of Crew Wages to Seafarers”, 9 June 2017

Human Rights at Sea supported by the NGO Justice Upheld…published a detailed investigative report and case study into the matter of Indian and Sri Lankan crew of the MV Sharjah Moon IMO 7516503 [owned by ALCO Shipping Services], some of whom have been denied payment of owed wages…in excess of 16 months and…remain in the UAE unable to return home to their families…The fact that at least two crew [members] have written suicide notes speaks volumes as to the mental state of the crew who have been isolated by the owners and made to suffer unnecessarily…The company has not provided fresh food and water for over a month despite repeated requests. The crew have also run out of fuel for cooking and heating, further aggravating the health conditions onboard.

[The Business & Human Rights Resource Centre invited ALCO Shipping Services to respond, but has yet to receive a response]

Read the full post here

5 July 2017

Kuwait: Indian sailors detained without due process

Author: Human Rights at Sea

“Indian seafarers unlawfully detained in Kuwait”, 17th May 2017

…The Janan [ship] arrived at a Kuwaiti port on the 13th of May 2013 where…[five] men including...[Iranian] Captain, Massood Khalif were arrested for the alleged illegal importation of contraband diesel. The five men were detained in Police custody and three of the [four] Indian nationals continue to remain in detention since the 13th of May 2013...[T]he Iranian Captain…remained at liberty until May 2015 when he managed to leave Kuwait without having to answer the charges laid against him… Despite being subject to legal proceedings, the Indian nationals have not been informed of the charges against them or served with copies of the charge sheets and/or with copies of the pleadings. The Iranian Captain attended all Court hearings and was provided with legal representation by the Iranian ship owners whilst the Indian nationals were unrepresented and denied the opportunity to appear before the Court to learn of the case against them and present their defence. 

Read the full post here

24 October 2016

Workers stranded out at sea without pay, food or drinking water

Author: Ankita Chaturvedi, Khaleej Times (UAE)

"Six Asian sailors stuck on ship near Ajman port", 13 Oct 2016.

Six sailors are struggling without food, fresh drinking water and other basic necessities on a ship named Faryal anchored near Ajman Port. The five Indians and a Bangladeshi are stuck almost 10 nautical miles (18-20km) away from the port. The ship is owned by a Sharjah-based company, Kinetic Energy Lubricants...According to Reverend Nelson Fernandez, a Mission to Seafarers representative who oversees RAK and the Northern Emirates operations, there is another vessel (SL Star) almost 8 nautical miles (12-13 km) away from Ajman, carrying 16 people comprising Indians, Burmese and Pakistanis, in a similar situation. He said: "The contract of this ship expired nine months ago and these seafarers have not been paid since then. Somehow, they are surviving on the ship. It looks like the ship has been abandoned by the owner."

Read the full post here

7 October 2016

14 Indian sailors stranded near UAE without food, water

Author: Ankita Chaturvedl

14 Indians are stuck off a UAE port on four merchant ships [MT Beta, MY Cityelite, MT Al Nouf and MT Laowadale] without access to food, fresh water... for four months now. They have not even been paid their due salaries since they were recruited...

The Indian Consulate in Dubai... stated: "The Consulate is aware of 14 stranded Indian seafarers in Fujairah and Khorfakan anchorage. They are on board vessels MT Beta, MT City Elite, MT Low dale & MT Al Nouf since around last 3 months. All the vessels are owned by a Fujairah-based Company, namely Venous Ship Management."

[We were unable to find contact information for Venous Ship Management and were unable to invite them to respond to the article.]

Read the full post here