Independent review of UAE legal and policy protections for Seafarers

Press Release

12th August 2019

Dubai. UAE. / London. UK. Human Rights at Sea today issues an independent review and briefing note on the current legal and policy protections for seafarers operating in United Arab Emirates (UAE) waters following on from the series of high-profile abandonment cases since late 2018 highlighted by the charity’s case studies and other leading international newspapers such as the Times of India and The Guardian.

Recent publicly reported events from October 2018 within the territorial waters and international waters offshore the UAE of the abandonment of seafarers for extended periods, some up to 33 months at the time of writing, has once again shone a necessary light on the abhorrent practice of abandoned seafarers by unethical ship owners.

Often with the reality of minimal available direct access and recourse to effective legal and judicial remedies, unless championed by the flag State, port State authorities, or in the present case having the issue raised publicly through civil society and maritime welfare organisations, such unacceptable practices will continue with impunity and unchecked globally.

The independent Briefing Note is aimed at supportively highlighting legal and policy developments by the UAE Government in combatting such issues, and protecting seafarers responsible for moving in excess of 90% of the world’s goods by sea from such poor working conditions and unacceptable human rights abuses.

While the UAE has not yet ratified the Maritime Labour Convention 2006, the current facts and evidence of abandonment in, and offshore UAE waters, suggests that an ongoing government review of this position to further safeguard international trade in the maritime supply chain is needed, and may well be shortly actioned through a proposed new maritime law in 2020 updating the extant 1981 law as announced by HE Dr Dr Abdullah bin Mohammed Belhaif Al Nuaimi, Minister of Infrastructure Development, on Sunday 7 July 2019. 

UAE Legal and Policy Developments for Seafarers Briefing Note in English – August 2019

UAE Government Legal & Policy Position Supporting Maritime Protections for Seafarers. An independent briefing note in English.

UAE Legal and Policy Developments for Seafarers Briefing Note in Arabic – August 2019

UAE Government Legal & Policy Position Supporting Maritime Protections for Seafarers. An independent briefing note in Arabic.


Important Note to Readers

Human Rights at Sea continues to publish educational materials, publications, investigative case studies of individual and family testimony highlighting unacceptable conditions onboard vessels of all tonnages, as well as throughout the associated maritime supply chain, in order to establish greater public awareness of the issues raised without compromising our editorial freedom.

The charity does not subscribe to any imposed protocols and agreements with other entities effectively limiting the ability to report freely and objectively disclose facts, including the reality of unacceptable labour, and wider human rights abuses at sea.

The charity will therefore continue to take a legal and moral stand whenever and wherever it can to fairly advocate for the betterment of human rights, working conditions, and the reduction in abuse at sea. This includes pressing issues such as the criminalisation of seafarers and humanitarian rescuers, abuses towards migrants, impunity of flag States in transparently reacting to and addressing reported abuse, the expansion of the positive contributory role of civil society organisations in the maritime sector, and the provision of greater awareness of effective remedies when abuse occurs.

Our Ask in return

We rely on public and private donations to be able to continue this invaluable and independent work free of bias and interference and every donation, however small or large, goes to assure continuation of our transparent and objective front-end work ensuring that ‘human rights apply at sea, as they do on land’. Thank you.


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