Crewmen freed from slavery conditions on fishing vessel
A team from the International Transport Federation (ITF) have been at the centre of freeing a group of Ghanaian crewmen from a UK fishing vessel, and have been shocked at the mistreatment the men had suffered. (The vessel pictured in the background has no connection with the events referred to here)
According to the ITF, the crewmen were removed by police from the fishing vessel in Portsmouthâs Camber Docks.
âWe have heard first hand of the abuse they have encountered for months, and a skipper who refers to the crew as âGhanaian slavesâ,â ITF inspector Darren Procter stated once the crewmen had been removed from the vessel and placed in a hotel.
âIn a postscript to the initial incident, the ITF team returned to the vessel the following day to find that a replacement crew had been brought in overnight, some from Scotland and some from other vessels.
âWe saw similar complaints again. The two Indian, one Ghanaian and one Sri Lankan crewmen had been brought in thinking they were joining a general cargo vessel, and were paying as much as ÂŁ5000 to the agent for the privilege of being employed.â
âToday we got lucky, with a well-connected maritime community in Portsmouth that doesnât look the other way and doesnât acknowledge that these practices have any place in the UK,â Darren Procter said.
âI today looked into the eyes of a man and saw a broken soul, seeing a collective of broken souls who were removed for their own protection and said to the police they were so happy to be in the police van. The systematic abuse at sea is frightening, the disregard for legislation, regulations, safety and above all humanity is most definitely on the increase.â
Hampshire Police have confirmed that five men aged between 35 and 46 were located on board the vessel and taken to a place of safety, and the following day four more men aged between 25 and 57 made themselves known to police and were also removed. All nine have been referred to the National Crime Agency as victims of modern slavery. Two men have been arrested on suspicion of modern slavery offences and are currently being questioned by police.
Source: ITF, Hampshire Police
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