Speaking Out for Shore Leave

Jan 11, 2012

In a recent Lloyd’s List article, reporter Rajesh Joshi wrote on the restrictive shore leave policies that forced a crew of US mariners to remain on board a vessel over Christmas and New Year’s while docked in a Brazilian port for more than two weeks. Under the policy, which mirrors a similar one in the United States, seafarers from other countries must have visas in order to disembark, and because these seafarers did not have the appropriate visa, they could not stand on Brazilian soil. The Director of the Seamen’s Church Institute’s (SCI) Center for Seafarers’ Rights, Douglas B. Stevenson, spoke about the unfairness of these policies in an interview with the magazine’s reporter.

Stevenson focused on the importance of all maritime nations, especially the United States, ratifying ILO 185, an International Labour Organisation convention that sets international standards for biometric identification documents issued by a seafarer’s homeland—documents that also serve as the equivalent of a visa. “Far from compromising national security,” Stevenson told the Lloyd’s List reporter, “[ratifying ILO185] would in fact bolster it.”

“Seafarers’ right to shore leave existed in customary maritime law long before it was recorded,” Stevenson told Lloyd’s List. Citing a 1943 Supreme Court decision, he said, “Shore leave is an elemental necessity in the sailing of ships … not merely a personal diversion.”

Lloyd’s List subscribers can read the entire article at http://www.lloydslist.com/ll/sector/regulation/article388209.ece