Centre gets Human Rights notice over stranded sailors

Chennai: The National Human Rights Commission has issued notices to an MEA secretary and the director general of Shipping in the Ministry of Ports, Shipping and Waterways over Indian sailors stranded onboard two ships in Chinese waters, officials said on Friday.

The NHRC in a statement 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’.

According to the reports, the cargo ship has been stranded in Chinese waters along with another carrier, MV Jag Anand, which is stuck off at Jingtang port since June 2020. The news report also informs that the arrival of these ships coincided with an ‘escalating altercation between China and Australia’, the statement said.

It has 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 may 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’, it said.

The commission has observed that the media reports, also give a very ‘sordid picture of lack of promptness’ from the side of the authorities established under the law not enabling the Indian seafarers and crew members of MV Anastasia and MV Jag Anand to return to the country, resulting in ‘unfathomable anxiety and uncertainty’ on their release or discharge.

“This incongruity warrants the commission to step in to protect and promote human rights of these citizens of the country, 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.

The NHRC has further observed that prima facie, it appears that the rights to life, dignity, equality and liberty of Indian seafarers have been “trampled down by a member nation of United Nations in derogation of international human rights law and international covenants applicable in the field of human rights.”

 

NT Bureau