New Indian Koli Fishing Community Human Rights Baseline Study published

Press Release

2nd September 2019

London. UK / Mumbai. India. Reflecting ongoing human rights research work throughout the maritime environment and associated supply chains today Human Rights at Sea publishes their baseline field report for the Koli fishing community who live and work at sea in Mumbai, India.

Undertaken in the field during the monsoon period the charity’s local researchers spent time with the fishermen, their Co-opertative Societies, local community representatives and government officials to understand the levels of awareness, advocacy and understanding of individual’s human rights as they apply within the community.

The following recommendations are made from the report.

1. Improve education and awareness. There have been no serious attempts in the past by either Government authorities, or the Cooperative Societies to make fishermen and their families aware of their fundamental rights. While Government authorities are reluctant to engage with NGOs fearing backlash against their commercial development projects, the Societies are keen to promote activities that contribute to the welfare of fishermen. An alignment with the different Societies in Mumbai to distribute information and conduct training sessions could prove beneficial for the fishermen in the Koli Community.

2. Improve information dissemination. According to the conversations with the fishermen, most of the dissemination of information in the Koli Community occurs through social media websites such as WhatsApp and Facebook. There are established social media groups which include most of the Community living in the fishing villages or ‘Koliwadas’ which can be used in order to spread awareness about human rights issues.

3. Use younger educated community members as focal points. The presence of people who have attained higher education within the Koli Community can be used as focal points to engage the others in conversation surrounding human rights at sea.

The baseline study will be followed by other similar studies in seafaring communities around the world which may otherwise be currently unreported and therefore have little, or no visibility, with the international maritime community.

India Research: Koli Fishing Community Mumbai Human Rights Baseline Study – July 2019

The aim of the Mumbai focused research is to start to build a series of objective and comparative global studies that can be used for local, national and international referencing in respect of more constructively raising awareness of human rights provisions, protections and effective remedies under the main principle that ‘human rights apply at sea, as they do on land’.


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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