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Human Rights at Sea (HRAS) is very pleased to be able to announce that it has become a Registered Charity in England and Wales after only 13 months since its launch on 3 April 2014.

The charity’s aim is to explicitly raise awareness, implementation and accountability of human rights provisions throughout the maritime environment, especially where they are currently absent, ignored or being abused. It has been lawfully established and constituted with strong governance and national regulatory oversight.

Founder and now CEO of HRAS, David Hammond, said: “The development of Human Rights at Sea has been remarkably quick, first as an initiative and now as a charity. This reflects what we see as a clear gap in the international space for such a charitable body and its investigatory and advocacy work. We aim to ask the tough questions on difficult matters while delivering objective solutions where able. This approach has already highlighted the strong moral fibre of those who will work with us.”

“This is clearly a fantastic achievement for the HRAS team who have put in significant effort and many long hours in this first year in order to establish the organisation on very limited funding and support. Nevertheless, we have demonstrated significant value for money to date, and we have delivered on our promise to provide an objective international maritime human rights platform. Our investigative case studies, maritime-based projects and programmes are all clearly relevant to today’s maritime environment.”

“HRAS will go from strength-to-strength as an independent platform supporting the maritime human element, promoting corporate social responsibility and as an organisation we are here to stay.”

A joint trustees statement led by Jens Dieckmann, Attorney-at-Law said: “What distinguishes Human Rights at Sea is the overarching approach. Human rights on the high seas applies to everyone; fishermen, refugees and seafarers, while the modern maritime and fishing industries need to apply the highest human rights standards throughout the entire supply chain. Such a holistic international approach is both unique and beyond compare at this time. The current refugee crisis in the Mediterranean and in South East Asia shows that an isolated consideration and approach falls short. HRAS is able to make a decisive contribution to fill this gap. We, the HRAS Trustees, will ensure that this ambitious mission will be successfully accomplished.”

Commenting on the achievement, members of the Advisory Board and other HRAS supporters have added their congratulations:

Martin Foley, National Director, Apostleship of the Sea & HRAS Board of Advisors
“In a very short space of time HRAS has become a powerful advocate for seafarers’ rights. Registration as a charity will enhance its ability to speak up on behalf of seafarers who are denied their basic rights.”

Philip Wake, Chief Executive, The Nautical Institute
“The Nautical Institute is delighted to hear that Human Rights at Sea has achieved charitable status in the UK. We are sure that this not only confirms that a sound governance structure has been put in place to underpin their work on behalf of seafarers but that it will also assist the industry in supporting their important work financially. It is a sad but undeniable fact that seafarers continue to be unjustly criminalised for bona fide accidents in the course of their essential work for society and the world economy and to be denied shore leave in some countries, so the support HRAS provides to them is essential and The Nautical Institute looks forward to working with them to address these issues.”

Holman Fenwick Willan LLP
“HFW is delighted that the work of Human Rights at Sea has been recognised through the achievement of registered charity status. Having worked with HRAS from its inception, we fully support its aims and believe that recognition by the Charity Commission is a true reflection of the hard work and dedication of those involved in progressing this important cause. We look forward to supporting HRAS through the next stage of their development.”

Andrew Varney, Managing Director Port2Port Limited
“Charity Status for the Human Rights at Sea is a fantastic achievement for David Hammond and his team. This reinforces the most basic of rights for seafarers across the globe, including maritime security operatives working on board. I fully support the promotion and awareness of human rights for all seafarers; only recently one of Port2Port’s contractors was involved in the rescue of fishermen off Ghana, following the sinking of their vessel. All maritime security operatives embark with a thorough understanding of their moral and contractual responsibilities to their fellow seafarers, underpinned by the principles defined and upheld by HRAS.”

Roy Paul, Programme Director, Maritime Humanitarian Piracy Response programme (MHPRP)
“MHPRP welcomes the news that charitable status has been achieved by Human Rights at Sea. HRAS will give a voice to seafarers who, at sea, are out of sight and out of mind and often live and work without protection of the law. The desperation to escape poverty forces seafarers into slavery and expose them to inhuman living conditions. The failure to provide adequate protection and recovery from violent maritime crime, deprive seafarers of their livelihood. Their lives are being threatened. The numerous faces on the HRAS Missing Seafarers Register and the high toll of unnamed maritime deaths per year underscores the need for human rights to be applied at sea with as much diligence as anywhere else. MPHRP has added many of those seafarers to the Register, brought to our attention by desperate families and loved ones of piracy victims and other maritime incidents. It brings some comfort knowing that their kin are not forgotten. While MLC2006 sets minimum standards, it falls short of enforcing human rights in the maritime domain. To this end MPHRP hopes for the success of Human Rights at Sea.”

Aleka Sheppard, Chairman (Founder), London Shipping Law Centre & HRAS Board of Advisors
“The perils at sea for mariners are as great as ever. Take piracy, which ranges from the Gulf of Guinea to the Indian Ocean and the Far East. Failed states such as Libya have dangerous waters for both professional mariners and now migrants trafficked at sea. Even in modern ships, seafarers are exposed to serious risks as they have been for thousands of years, a startling situation in a modern world. In addition, mariners may face criminalisation, even for defending themselves against these threats. Yet, it is paradoxical that the rise of globalisation through trade has not been accompanied by a concomitant rise in protecting the human rights of those at sea. Therefore the grant of charitable status to HRAS is a great achievement and very timely as the rights of seafarers everywhere require safeguarding.”

Ken Peters Director of Justice and Public Affairs The Mission to Seafarers
“I am delighted to recommend Human Rights at Sea for all the work they do to support seafarers in need and for their key activities in raising awareness, implementation and accountability of human rights provisions through the maritime environment. They work to research and publish important case studies based on international maritime law, which has helped countless seafarers where their human rights are absent, ignored or being abused. The Mission works across the shipping world in around 260 of the world’s ports and our vital work providing welfare services to seafarers includes pastoral care and friendship in these very complex circumstances, amongst others. I want to congratulate David Hammond CEO and Founder of HRAS for setting up a new maritime charity which is now registered in England and Wales.”

Associated Foreign Exchange (AFEX)
“AFEX is delighted that Human Rights at Sea has achieved charity status. The principles, objectives and cutting edge approach of HRAS towards the provision of human rights for all seafarers resonate entirely with AFEX’s Maritime Corporate Social Responsibility Policy and we congratulate all at HRAS for this deserved recognition of the importance of their mission.”

Joanna Ewart-James, Director, Walk Free Partner Network
“I welcome the formal establishment of Human Rights at Sea. The isolation which attracts many to a life at sea also allows rights violations to thrive hidden from view. Whilst life at sea is usually a positive experience, sadly some are victims of crimes such as modern slavery. The Walk Free movement remains poised to support organisations like HRAS secure change to end slavery at sea.”

Steven Kay QC, Head 9 Bedford Row International Group & HRAS Board of Advisors
“The HRAS initiative critically emphasises the responsibilities and duties owed to all persons on the high seas be they seafarers, fishermen or boat people. This neglected area of people’s rights now has a protective cover.”

David Wardrop, Chairman, United Nations Association Westminster Branch
“The United Nations Association Westminster Branch congratulates Human Rights at Sea on gaining charitable status. The speed with which organisations like ours as well as governments and individuals confirmed our ready support for its strong voice advocating human rights issues in the maritime environment reflects the urgency of its work and our confidence in its leadership.”

Rear-Admiral Nick Lambert Royal Navy, HRAS Board of Advisors
“I unhesitatingly commend the vision of HRAS and the recent award of its charitable status by The Charity Commission. Notwithstanding the sterling efforts of many agencies and institutions, the plight of countless seafarers, fishermen and migrants at sea has been largely ignored by the international community for far too long. Proper recognition of and attention to their human rights offers a clear course of action, the potential for effectively addressing their circumstances and, above all, hope for the many people we’re seeing all too often in news media coverage.”

Agustin Blanco-Bazan, HRAS Board of Advisors
“The preservation of human rights at sea should be understood as a paramount task conditioning all activities in the maritime field. As such, it should be addressed holistically, namely as a subject matter comprising the aspirations of all: seafarers, migrants, missing persons and their families, alleged offenders in connection with crimes at sea, etc. HRAS enables the development of this holistic approach. It does so by means of complementing the work of many institutions representing different sectors of the maritime industry. In this way HRAS provides the added value of a vision encompassing all situations where basic rights seem to be more vulnerable at sea than on land.”

Brig. Ret’d., Martin Xuereb, Director, Migrant Offshore Aid Station (MOAS)
“The work HRAS has done in raising awareness on the need for protection of human rights at sea is admirable. I am very pleased to hear the organisation has achieved charitable status that will allow them to extend their action internationally. MOAS will keep collaborating with them to ensure that rights of vulnerable people at sea are respected.”

Shelly Whitman, Executive Director, Romeo Dallaire Child Soldiers Initiative
“The Roméo Dallaire Child Soldiers Initiative is elated to hear that Human Rights at Sea (HRAS) has received registered charity status. The Dallaire Initiative has been a proud supporting entity of Human Rights at Sea since its founding and we look forward to working with HRAS to develop effective means of mitigating, and hopefully eliminating, human rights abuses at sea. HRAS has shown unwavering support of the Dallaire Initiative’s work on raising the rights of children on the maritime security sector agenda. The Dallaire Initiative is excited to build upon our partnership with HRAS to further our effort to strengthen the capacity of the security sector to address the issue of children used in maritime piracy.”

Jon Huggins, Oceans Beyond Piracy (OBP)
“Human Rights at Sea has become an important voice advocating for the welfare of all seafarers, particularly in the fight to end the practice of slavery aboard fishing vessels and to bring attention to the plight of missing seafarers. Oceans Beyond Piracy congratulates Human Rights at Sea on achieving registered charity status which will provide a platform to continue the development of the organization and significantly contribute to achieving its mission.”

Anneley Pickles, Head of Business Development – Crewtoo
“Crewtoo is pleased to hear the very good news that Human Rights at Sea has achieved charitable status as part of the ongoing expansion of the organisation and the work that it does to highlight human rights abuses at sea. The speed at which HRAS has developed is testimony to the real need for its work in support of seafarers globally.”

Georgina Godden, Business Development Director of Psychological Health Consultancy March on Stress
“I am delighted that Human Rights at Sea has achieved recognised charitable status. This reflects their hard work and dedication and we look forward to continuing to work together to ensure psychological support for seafarers.”
Source: Human Rights At Sea