2022 Assembly


Criminality at Sea, Involving Trafficking and the Exploitation of Human Beings


An Outlaw Ocean series of investigative journalism draws attention to criminality at sea, involving trafficking and the exploitation of human beings

Writing for The Outlaw Ocean Series in the New York Times this summer, 2015, investigation journalist Ian Urbina’ s articles encapsulates the complex web of criminality on the high seas.
Alarming insights are presented on how violence at sea and on land are handled differently and how little regard there is for the dignity of the human person when shipping vessels become places of detention, exploitation and even death by foul means.
To feed the demands of the global economy, 90% of the world’s goods are transported on the high seas. Often, maritime laws are not as extensive as those governing air, road and rail transportation.
Tens of thousands are enslaved on boats each year – many of them minors –because of debt payments or coercion or fleeing from war. Frequently, they are subjected to inhumane conditions without respite or sufficient food to survive.
In Men and laws, thrown overboard, which featured on the 17th July 2015, we read of the exploitation and harsh realities for those on board the Dona Liberta, a rusty, refrigerated cargo vessel which has a record of regularly switching off its mandatory satellite tracking signal, dumping oil and pollutants into the seas, abandoning crew members, abusing stowaways and turning a blind eye to people traffickers.
For more, see:
In the second series of articles, Murder at Sea: Captured on Video but Killers Go Free, Urbina writes of lawlessness and unaccounted for murder at sea. We read of armed gangs running protection rackets and ruthless pirates attacking container ships; human traffickers transporting refugees and migrants in less than seaworthy boats, in addition to violence amongst fishing boats competing against each other in the rush greedily to harvest the sea.
On a cautionary note, the article includes some disturbing video content, which only serves to heighten awareness of the additional, enormous risks for migrants and trafficked persons, innocent victims of the inhumanity of persons to persons.
You can access the latest article on:


Adapted & compiled by Anne Kelleher, RENATE Communications Person