Thursday, October 4, 2012

Passenger and Freight Ferry Collapse Caused Wrongful Imprisonment Shambles

Union Official Freed After Months of Incarceration
Shipping News Feature

MOROCCO – A triumph for the International Transport Workers Federation (ITF) this week as all the serious charges, which included sabotage and endangering national security, held against Moroccan trade unionist Said Elhairech have been dismissed leaving only one minor charge against him. He is now free with his innocence proven after helping ships’ crews who were left stranded following the demise of freight and passenger ferry company Comarit-Comanav and continued pressure from a coalition of unions. ITF general secretary David Cockroft commented:

“Said's first call, as soon as he was free, was to the ITF Arab World regional secretary, Bilal Malkawi, to thank the ITF for our ‘Free Said’ campaign. Coming immediately following the presence in Casablanca of our inspectors and maritime union activists, this shows the power of the ITF. As I said last Thursday at the closing session of our Maritime Roundtable there, while jailing union leaders for doing their job in Morocco is not uncommon, this time they picked two people who had the ITF behind them. It now remains for the court to speedily release Said’s colleague Mohamed Chamchati, with his reputation also intact.

“For over 100 days Said has languished in jail and trade unionists around the world have fought for his release. This is undoubtedly the right decision, if overdue, and it proves what we said all along, that the charges were ridiculous - and we have broadcast that fact to the world.”

ITF president Paddy Crumlin added that dockworkers, seafarers and other transport workers around the world and their unions will welcome Said’s release. He added the unfortunately, like Mohamed, he was jailed for nothing more than meeting international obligations in protecting labour rights which applied equally to employers and governments. Crumlin continued:

“The case gives the Moroccan government a clear opportunity to show regional leadership by ensuring those obligations are protected in national law in a way acceptable to every country accepting its civil, human and labour rights aspirations and responsibilities. This is a great day for Said, for Morocco and for trade unionism. This decision is a testament to his effectiveness as a trade unionist and the effectiveness of all the unions that have struggled so hard, and now so successfully, to clear his name. The release of Mohamed must now also follow.”