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NHRC notice to MEA, DG Shipping over Indians stranded on ships in China

by Raju Vernekar
0 comment 4 minutes read

IT Correspondent
Mumbai/New Delhi, Jan 3:

The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has issued notices to an MEA secretary and the director general of Shipping in the Union Ministry of Ports, Shipping and Waterways over Indian sailors stranded onboard two ships in Chinese waters. 
In a statement on Friday, the NHRC said it has taken suo motu cognisance of media reports on stranded Indian sailors onboard MV Anastasia and MV Jag Anand in Chinese waters for over 146 days and their difficulties “without any rescue mission in sight”. NHRC observed that the contents of media reports, if true, amount to violation of human rights, the statement added. 
Accordingly, the commission has issued notices to the secretary (Consular, Passport and Visa), Ministry of External Affairs, and to the Director General, Shipping in the Ministry of Ports, Shipping and Waterways, seeking reports, including action taken for release or discharge of the seafarers of MV Anastasia and MV Jag Anand, it said. 
The commission also expects that the “Ministry of External Affairs to take up the issue with the authorities, through Indian Embassy in People’s Republic of China, so as to ensure immediate relief and security of the stranded Indian seafarers with promptitude. The response is expected within two weeks. This incongruity warrants the commission to step in to protect  and promote human rights of Indian citizens, whose rights have been challenged and threatened. It is the duty of the appropriate authority to initiate the rescue mission at the earliest but the news report is not giving very inspiring information to that extent,” the rights panel observed. 
It has noted that the General Assembly of the United Nations proclaims that Universal Declaration of Human Rights, 1948 recognizes inherent dignity, equality and inalienable rights of all members of human family and these are the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world. Article 2 of the Declaration postulates, everyone is entitled to all the rights and freedom set forth in this eeclaration without distinction of any kind, such as race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status, NHRC said. 
Similarly, it says no distinction shall be made on the basis of political jurisdictional or international status of the country or territory to which a person belongs, whether it be independent, trust, non-self-governing or under any other limitation of sovereignty. Similarly, Article 3 of the Declaration explicitly guarantees everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person, the commission said. 
Long after that, International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights was adopted by the General Assembly, on 16th December, 1966, wherein Article 9 no uncertain terms speaks that everyone has the right to liberty and security to person. No one shall be subjected to arbitrary arrest or detention, in as much as, no one shall be deprived of his liberty except on such grounds and in accordance with such procedures as established by law, it added.
“It is also reported that their food had sufficed but the water is contaminated leading to skin infections in many of the crew members on board. Proper medical facilities are also not available to the crew members and it is informed by the chartering agent of the cargo ships that the doctor can visit only when someone is dying,” it added. 
Forty-one Indian sailors are stranded on two merchant vessels, for the last few months, at Chinese ports, since the vessels have not been permitted to offload the cargo, due to a reported standoff between China and Australia. Besides a permission to change the crew members has also not been given due to which a majority of the sailors have remained on board for more than the allowed limit of 11 months.
 The vessel “MV Jag Anand”, with 23 Indian seafarers, chartered by freight trading firm “Cargill”, has been stranded at the port of “Jintang” since June 2020, while “M V Anastasia”, with 18 Indian seafarers, is stuck at Caofeidian anchorage in China’s Bohai sea since September 2020. “MV Jag Anand” belongs to the Mumbai-based Great Eastern Shipping Company (Indian flag) and M V Anastasia (Panama flag) is owned by the Mediterranean Shipping Company S.A., a Swiss-Italian international shipping line. 
“M V Jag Anand”, which started from the port Gladstone, AU, Queensland,  reached the port of Jintang on June 13, 2020, while M VAnastasia, had set sail from the port of Hay Point in Queensland, reached at port Caofeidian, on Sept 20, 2020 as per voyage information provided by Marine Traffic.Com. Both the vessels are having shipments of Australian cooking coal.

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