“The International Lawyers Assisting Workers (ILAW) Network, which unites over 400 workers’ rights lawyers from over 55 countries, writes to demand the immediate release and repatriation of the roughly 200,000 seafarers who have been trapped aboard ships due to the measures imposed to contain the spread of COVID-19. Compelled to extend their contracts months ago, many seafarers have been at sea now for well over a year and are mentally and physically exhausted and distressed. As such, they pose a great risk both to themselves and to others. This situation is another stark reminder as to how workers, whose labor is necessary for global trade – including the transportation of essential goods such as food, personal protective equipment and medical supplies – are often the least protected in a crisis. Despite repeated calls from the ILO, the UN, the International Transport Workers Federation (ITF) and trade unions around the world, these workers are no closer to freedom today. Indeed, their situation constitutes forced labor in violation of international law.”

The full letter from ILAW can be found here: ILAW Letter re Forced Labor of Seafarers June 22 2020.