Guidelines on the handling of seafarer abandonment cases, which were initiated by Indonesia, China, and the Philippines in 2020, have been adopted by the International Maritime Organization (IMO) at its 110th Legal Committee Session.
The meeting took place on March 27–31, 2023, at the IMO Headquarters in London, England.
Indonesian Ambassador to the United Kingdom and permanent representative of Indonesia at IMO, Desra Percaya, lauded the support of all IMO member countries for the adoption of the guidelines.
“As one of the countries with the largest number of seafarers in the world, Indonesia has a big interest in protecting seafarers,” he said in a statement released on Saturday.
According to the statement, Indonesia’s initiative to establish the guidelines proves the commitment of the government to improving the protection of Indonesian seafarers abroad.
“Indonesian seafarers do not only work on fishing vessels, but also on trading vessels and cruise ships abroad. During the COVID-19 pandemic, the Indonesian embassy in London had handled a number of cases of Indonesian sailors, which required special attention,” the ambassador informed.
Resolving such cases requires a long time and collaboration with several parties. Hence, the new guidelines are expected to become a common reference for all stakeholders to expedite the handling of seafarer abandonment cases.
Head of legal and foreign cooperation at the Directorate General of Sea Transportation of the Transportation Ministry, Nurdiansyah, said that the initiative is a concrete attempt by the government to protect Indonesia’s interests in the international maritime community.
“Certainly, it was not easy to initiate the guidelines at IMO, which consists of many maritime member countries,” he added.
However, this did not discourage Indonesia from continuing to fight for its interests internationally, he said.
“The attempt is in line with the vision of the Indonesian government to become the world’s maritime axis,” Nurdiansyah remarked.
With the adoption of the guidelines, each IMO member country will be required to develop a national standard operating procedure (SOP) describing the technical details of the responsibilities and obligations of the relevant authorities as well as the roles of each stakeholder, he added.