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IBF speaks out on Hebei Spirit treatment

Joint press release from the IBF. Hong Kong, 21 November 2008


IBF speaks out on Hebei Spirit treatment


The IBF today condemned the treatment of the Hebei Spirit officers detained in South Korea and pledged its members to do all they can to secure their release.

Meeting in Hong Kong, the IBF (International Bargaining Forum, which brings together union and ship owner representatives) spoke out on the plight of Captain Jasprit Chawla and Chief Officer Syam Chetan. The two men have been refused permission to return home even though they were acquitted by a South Korean Court under article 325 of the Criminal Procedure Act of South Korea and cleared of all charges of violating the nation’s anti-pollution laws when a passing mobile craft collided with their ship last December.

The IBF stated that since the collision and the ensuing oil spill cannot be attributed to any negligence on their part and since they have already been proven innocent under South Korean law, the treatment of them is unlawful and unjust, and in contravention of their human rights.

ITF Maritime Coordinator Stephen Cotton said: “Captain Chawla and Chief Officer Chetan have been found innocent of causing last December's spill, they have been held for nearly a year and now they are being effectively punished further on a virtual non-charge. The treatment of these men has been repudiated by us, by the shipping industry, by seafarers' unions and by the Indian Government, all of whom have petitioned the Korean Government and courts for their release. All of us are aware of the effect the oil spill had on those who live and work in the area, but picking on these two officers will not lessen the damage.”

Giles Heimann, Deputy Secretary General of the International Maritime Employers' Committee (IMEC) said: “It is time to let these men go home and restore South Korea’s image as a place where justice is done, not a place where it is seen to be undone. We respect the independence of the nation’s courts and we all ask them to respect the rights of these men to a family life and to resume their jobs.”

ENDS

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