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Charities call for end of unlawful Seaman Guard Ohio crew detention

Charities call for end of unlawful Seaman Guard Ohio crew detention
The Mission to Seafarers (MtS) and Human Rights at Sea (HRAS) have called for action in the case of the crew of the Seaman Guard Ohio, branding the men's continued detention as "unlawful" and breach of human rights.

Seatrade Global spoke to one of the crew members, John Armstrong, last week and he outlined some of the hardships he and his colleagues have endured since they were detained in October 2013, and still remain unable to leave India despite charges against them being quashed in July 2014. Their detention has stretched for 509 days.
Summarising a detailed analysis of the facts of the vessel's initial arrest and the subsequent events, a nine page document from HRAS finds that the actions of the Indian State of Tamil Nadu amount to contempt of court, and that holding the crew in India without access to their travel documents is a breach of their human rights under local and international law.
Points 26 and 27 of the HRAS document state: "As highlighted, the continued unlawful detention of the crew in India is in violation of the Indian constitutional provisions, and additionally violates international covenants.
"No lawful and coherent justification has been provided for the treatment of the crew.  The appeal of the Tamil Nadu police appears to turn on conspiracy theories that have otherwise been dismissed by the High Court, on the grounds that there was no evidence to support Tamil Nadu police assertions.
The crew prepared a family impact statement for HRAS, reproduced here in full: “Daily life has become more of survival, the health of the men is currently questionable. Considering we have little to no contact with the company, they pay for the Lawyer who represents them at the Supreme court, to clear our names for the second time. The only financial assistance we receive is from the MTS [Mission to Seafarers] & Veterans aid (UK). Both organisations have assisted with food, accommodation, medical expenses/dental requirements.
"Our families face financial ruin. Men have lost wives, houses have been repossessed, family members have died and one of the men is due to become a father in the next few days. This existence cannot be sustained indefinitely. Politicians on both sides should resolve their differences. It is unfortunate that normal people should suffer in this manner”.
Director of justice and public affairs at MtS, Ken Peters said: “The Mission to Seafarers has been working with families in the UK, as well as representatives of the families of the other crew members 14 from Estonia and 12 Indians on this harrowing case since it began in October 2013.  The crew have been held for over 500 days, firstly in prison in very harsh conditions, then on bail, and now just waiting for their passports to be returned to get home. They have long since had the charges against them completely quashed and they need to get back to their anxious families.
"I most humbly appeal directly to the British Prime Minister Mr David Cameron, our Foreign Secretary Mr Philip Hammond and to Indian Prime Minister Mr Narendra Modi to look into this case immediately and take steps for the Indian legal process to be expedited without any further delay. Human Rights at Sea have provided a welcome case study which indicates that the men are being unlawfully detained and we maintain that they must be allowed to return home to their loved ones with all speed.”

The full report from HRAS can be downloaded here