STOWAWAYS AND CRIMES ABOARD A SCOFFLAW SHIP
The lawless seas are some of the few places terrible crimes can go unnoticed. Because “no one is required to report violent crimes committed in international waters,” thousands of sea-travelers die each year from murders and modern slavery.
One of the worst offenders has been the Dona Liberta, a 370-foot cargo ship notorious for misconduct. This refrigerator ship routinely abused, cheated, and abandoned its crew, caused a 100-mile long oil slick, violated countless environmental laws, left debts unpaid, and still managed to operate freely. “In the maritime world, it’s far easier for countries to look the other way with problem ships like the Dona Liberta than to do something about them,” a retired U.S. Coast Guard commander said. Many other vessels like the Dona Liberta prove how weak and ineffective ship regulation laws are, which causes a huge problem for human trafficking.
Thousands of stowaways endure dreadful living conditions on ships to try and find work, in search of a better life. Roughly 2,000 of them are caught each year, after suffering from dehydration, starvation, and exhaustion. They say it is “jail with a salary,” except a salary is rarely granted.
Crew members of the Dona Liberta frequently begged for help, and reported the harsh conditions, wages, and mistreatment they endured. The captain would lie and never transfer money he promised to his workers, leaving all of them with nothing. Despite their desire to leave the ship, many stayed for the small chance that they would receive what was promised to them. Unfortunately, this happens on many different ships, and more than 2,300 seafarers have been stranded by their employers in the past decade.
The Dona Liberta is a prime example of how difficult it is to investigate crimes that occur at sea. With limited technology and the constant changing of crew members, witnesses are hard to come by. “The rules on land, though, often conflict with the realities at sea. Captains are prohibited from jettisoning stowaways, but they are blocked or fined if they bring them to shore.” When faced with these problems, most captains take the easy, unethical way out and force their stowaways overboard. Ultimately, the crimes committed at sea are getting worse and need to be addressed.
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Source: The New York Times