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HKSOA questions legality of Tosa crew detention

HKSOA questions legality of Tosa crew detention

Taipei: The Hong Kong Shipowners Association has voiced its support of the officers of the VLCC Tosa that have spent over three months in custody in Taiwan on the basis of an alleged collision resulting in a capsized fishing boat.  In a statement to the press, the HKSOA said tat it is " once again, appalled and extremely disappointed at the continuing trend of so-called 'developed' economies to treat seafarers with little regard for their basic human rights."   

Managing Director Arthur Bowring said, "Enough is enough.  Quite apart from the questionable legalities involved in this instance, there are just too many seafarers being treated badly and without respect.   Politicians must realise that we have had enough, and are not now prepared to sit quietly when seafarers are not afforded the basic human right of being presumed innocent unless proven guilty".   Continuing to keep seafarers detained in such circumstances not only shows a total lack of regard for human rights but also, once again, the triumph of politics and public appeasement over the law.  Treating seafarers with no respect for their dignity and professionalism not only reflects badly on the country concerned, but also greatly harms the industry's urgent recruitment efforts."

Its description of events is : "The Panamanian flag VLCC mv "Tosa" was on voyage from South Korea to Singapore in April 2009, when a Taiwanese fishing boat, "Shingtong Cheng #86" was reported capsized  resulting in the unfortunate deaths of two fishermen.  Despite the evidence showing that the VLCC was at least one hour from the position of capsize, and despite no evidence of collision on the hull of the VLCC, the ship was taken from the high seas under Coast Guard escort into Taiwanese port waters and the watchkeepers, the Second Officer and AB, as well as the ship's master, Capt. Glen Patrick Aroza, were taken ashore into detention.'

The association states, "After 3 months, these three seafarers continue to remain in detention in Taiwan, despite no apparent evidence either from the mv "Tosa" or from the salvaged trawler, that a collision had taken place.  The Second Mate is in jail, the AB has been released on bail but must stay in Taiwan, and the master is not able to leave Taiwan."  

The Hong Kong Shipowners Association has called on Taiwan to either show that it has sufficient evidence and jurisdiction to prosecute the seafarers or to arrange their immediate release from Taiwan.