1.1 A study1 recently undertaken by the Organization has identified various unlawful practices relating to certificates of competency. Unlawful practices associated with certificates of competency are a continuing problem and the implications for safety, environment and security are potentially very serious.
1.2 The aim of this guidance is to identify, on the basis of the findings of the aforesaid study, the nature or salient elements of the most frequently detected unlawful practices and to suggest some of the alternatives available in addressing this issue.
1.3 This guidance recognizes that other forms of unlawful practices may exist or may appear in the future. Each such case should be treated on its own merits, the aim remaining, at all times, is the elimination of unlawful practices. Procedures and measures implemented to detect and prevent unlawful practices should be continuously reviewed to ensure that they remain effective and relevant.
1.4 It is in the interest of the maritime community if companies, masters and manning agents were to report to Member Governments all instances when they suspect that an unlawful practice may be involved. However, it is the responsibility of Member Governments to investigate the matter, to determine whether or not an unlawful practice in fact has occurred or to take action in this respect. Member Governments should endeavour to bring unlawful practices reported to, or detected by them, to the attention of other Governments concerned.
1.5 It is essential that all parties involved in reporting or alleging any unlawful practice bear in mind that their actions have a direct effect on the seafarers concerned and an impact on their livelihood and the livelihood of their families. The duty and obligation to make responsible and well founded reports is, at all times, relates to the duty and obligation to respect the human rights and dignity of the seafarers concerned and of the seafaring community at large.
1.6 Unfair employment practices have been identified as one of the reasons which have led to unlawful practices. In addition, the rising costs of education and training in the maritime sector, as well as the rising direct (fees and other charges) and indirect (travel and subsistence) cost of undertaking examinations, coupled with the loss of earnings during the same period, give rise to temptations which eventually may lead to unlawful practices, either for the purpose of obtaining certificates or in order to obtain employment. It is therefore in the interest of the efforts to eliminate and eradicate unlawful practices and of the maritime industry at large, if affordable education and training was to be made widely available and if the fees and other charges for examinations were to
1.7 Although the section headed 'Falsifying information provided to employers' below is specifically addressed to companies2 and manning agents, both are urged to study this circular in its entirety. Similarly, Administrations may find that the aforesaid section also provides guidance, which may prove useful to them.
* In some Member States manning agents are referred as crew managers or crew agencies.
1 Refer to 'Unlawful Practices Associated with Certificates of Competency', a study undertaken by the Seafarers' International Research Centre (SIRC) , Cardiff University and presented to STW 33.
2 As defined in regulation I/1.23 of the STCW Convention, 1978, as amended.