As part of their routine ongoing professional development, with funding from the UK Government Blue Belt Programme, a team of officers from the Government of South Georgia & the South Sandwich Islands (GSGSSI) recently attended an introductory virtual training session with Human Rights at Sea.

Covering the interactions by key parties within the maritime environment, the training focused on individual awareness of the scale, scope and types of abuses as part of ongoing awareness development.

The core thread that runs throughout the HRAS training is that Government officers on the front line of fisheries, shipping and other maritime engagements are themselves frontline human rights defenders. 

Sue Gregory, GSGSSI Marine Environment Fisheries Manager, said: "Whilst all vessels operating at SGSSI are strictly regulated, we sadly recognise that human rights violations are an endemic risk within the maritime world; therefore, we have chosen to work with HRAS as the leading experts in this area. This initial training was incredibly thought-provoking and has been a valuable first step in raising awareness as we develop our proactive approach to protecting seafarers in our waters."

The training provided can also be viewed as being fundamental in identifying and protecting actual or potential victims, thereby limiting or stopping incidents of abuse at sea.

Backed with interactive learning and data capture exercises, there was an added sprinkling of humour separating what are otherwise challenging topics.

Laura Sinclair Willis, GSGSSI Chief Executive Officer, said: "The Government of South Georgia & the South Sandwich Islands is committed to the concept that human rights apply at sea as they do on land. In 2021 we made a public commitment to ensuring that vessels operating within the SGSSI maritime zone provide safe and ethical living and working conditions for all on board. We will continue to engage with HRAS and other organisations who represent these issues to understand what we can do better and what opportunities may exist for us to continuously improve welfare standards."

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