The Mission to Seafarers, the charity providing key and crucial ongoing support to the vessel, the Seaman Guard Ohio, including the Chennai Six, today welcomes the news that the men have won their appeal against false weapons licence charges in the India Appeal Court.
The ruling means that all charges brought against the 35 crew, including the six British armed security personnel, are dropped with immediate effect. This marks the end of a traumatic four-year period spent in captivity since their arrest in 2013.
Within 36hrs of the men being arrested, The Mission to Seafarers provided counselling, advice, and financial support around the clock to the men and their families. The Mission has provided and administered a legal fund to fight the men’s case, as well as paid for medical treatment for the Ukrainian Master’s terminal illness in partnership with the ITF Seafarers’ Trust. Our Regional Director in Dubai has regularly visited the prison and is on his way to commence an initial counselling session and help the men prepare for home.
Ben Bailey, Director of Advocacy, The Mission to Seafarers, commented: “Today is a day that we have long campaigned for. Maritime security professionals provide an important service in protecting seafarers from piracy. What matters now is that the crew must be given space to be reunited with their loved ones, and the Mission will be supporting them through that process as we have from the start. We are liaising with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office to make available a team of highly-trained counsellors, as well as arranging accommodation and flights home.
“The case of the Seaman Guard Ohio highlights once again the issue that millions of merchant seafarers often face when carrying out their everyday jobs. The criminalisation of seafarers remains a constant threat to those who are responsible for transporting over 90 per cent of world trade. It’s why The Mission to Seafarers provides a range of services to all ranks, nationalities and beliefs through its extensive global network of chaplains in more than 200 ports.“