Society - China - Ghana - Ivory Coast - Justice - Crime
Ghana officials corroborate Ivorian stowaways’ story against Chinese vessel
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  Wednesday 16 June 2010 / by Konye Obaji Ori
Ghanaian officials have corroborated the story of three Ivorian stowaways who were thrown into the sea on Saturday night after being discovered in the crane of a Chinese ship, the MV Rui Ning 3. A violation of United Nations law on immigration and Human Rights. One of the three drowned whilst a second is in critical condition.

According to reports, the stowaways slipped aboard the Chinese ship while it docked in the Ivorian port of Abidjan thinking it was U.S. bound. But the trade ship proceeded to the port of Takoradi, in the Western Region of Ghana, to load a cargo of bauxite believed to be destined for China.

And whilst people who seek to travel by secretly boarding a vehicle, ship, aircraft, or train without paying and without being detected are protected under the UN’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the Chinese crew of the ship threw the stowaways overboard after discovering the three men.

Ghana’s navy patrol rescued two of the Ivorian stowaways, Omar Cissť, 33, and Djiba Camara, 22, more than 12 hours after they had been thrown overboard, before seizing the Chinese ship. One of the stowaways, named as Kordah Aziz, is believed to have drowned as he was unable to keep afloat. Omar Cissť is in critical condition.

It is not certain why the Chinese crew took that action instead of simply handing the three stowaways over to authorities in the neighbouring city of Takoradi, which is only a few hours away from Abidjan. And especially since they were already in Ghanaian waters. According to Ghana’s Western Region police commander, Amidu Mahama, the police are waiting for advice from the country’s attorney-general and ministry of foreign affairs on how to proceed.

But the likelihood of the captain and crew of the impounded Chinese ship being fined or jailed, according to the regulations of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, are great following the provision of evidence by Djiba Camara who said they "had a black plastic bag which we used to store food and a hat which we used to clean our footprints in the vessel". Ghanaian officials have corroborated the evidence.

By law stowaways are under the responsibility of a ship’s captain until they are handed over, although it is illegal in most jurisdictions, and culprits risk imprisonment. But since they are not legally on board they are not accounted for when thrown into sea, unless rescued.


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