In April this year, a Romanian captain died at sea and was kept in the ship’s walk-in freezer for six months because 13 countries refused to have the body unloaded. The story may no longer shock as strange things have been happening during the COVID-19 pandemic. But it raises some very disturbing questions.

Do the rights of seafarers expire when they die? Are these rights and human rights in general applicable only to the living? What about the rights of the family of the deceased? Don’t they have the right to have their loved one brought home as expeditiously as possible for a decent burial?

Do the rights of seafarers expire when they die? Are these rights and human rights in general applicable only to the living?

In the midst of the pandemic, the entire shipping world is hailing seafarers as “heroes of global trade”. What hollow words! A dead soldier is immediately repatriated and welcomed with honours. Why not give the same treatment to a seafarer who has died at sea instead of shooing away his or her remains?

~ Barista Uno

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