Seafarers Centre Vitoria Brazil

Vitoria denied access to seafarers

Lorena Marchesi

The seafarers centre in the Port of Vitoria, Brazil, reports that it struggles to gain access to seafarers.

In the recently published 2012 annual report, Lorena Marchesi says that the centre was told it could not board ships unless it was given prior authority to do so by the ships’ agents representing each of the ships they intended to visit.     The requirement was “unfeasible, costly and difficult to fulfill,” she said. The centre has met repeatedlly with the Port Authority and its security officers, and included in their delegations, among others, legal representatives and even the local congressman, to no avail.  The Port authority cited the ISPS Code as the reason behind their demand for ships’ agents to approve ship visiting by welfare practitioners.  Even a letter to the Special Commission for  Ports in Brazil yeilded no results.

The centre’s report states:

In fifteen years, the ship visitors of Vitoria Seafarers’ Center have never had incidents, posed a threat or caused accidents.  And in all this time, the team has  observed the ICMA Code of Conduct,  showing respect to other peoples’ beliefs.  But the reasons (for our prohibition from the port), it is said, were that the chaplains’ presence posed a threat to port security and that the chaplains’ religion offended the seafarers’ diversity of creeds. We know that such allegations have no support in law.  To the contrary, there are international conventions, ratified by the Brazil Government, that recommend to governments that they should facilitate the access of welfare agents to seafarers on ships. Even our own Constitution ensures this very right of seafarers.  These difficulties have impacted negatively on the team’s performance in 2012. It compromised our goals. It halted our progress. It made our work impossible.  However, we want to say thanks to the three out of sixty ships’ agents that have supported us and are giving us the authorization required by the Federal Police. 

Then, in a covering e-mail to the Secretariat, Lorena wrote:

I must say that since January 11th things became easier for us to access ships in the ports.  Praise the Lord!   Special thanks to Doug Stevenson and David Potterton who did their best to help us solve this situation

Is there anything like this happening where you are that ICMA can help you to resolve?