Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Russia Probes Slavery on Stranded Cargo Ship

Russian investigators opened a criminal case on Wednesday over alleged use of “slave labor” among the Russian crew of a Tuvalu-flagged vessel held in the Philippines. The SS Veles bulk carrier, registered at Tuvalu's capital and port of Funafuti, with a 13-member Russian crew, got into trouble in the Philippines last month when some of its documentation expired, prompting the local authorities to detain the vessel. The crew appealed for help after being stuck in the port in poor living conditions with no food or water supplies, and no means of traveling home to Russia. Earlier reports said the sailors have not been paid for five months. The deputy governor of Russia's Primorye Region, where the sailors are from, flew to Manila on Tuesday to help with arrangements for sending them home. The crew later succeeded in getting home to Russia by themselves, and contacted the authorities about the situation on board. Large numbers of Russian-owned ships are registered under flags of convenience, in states with lax safety regulations, in order to cut costs.

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