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April 21, 2005

Indonesian union battles "high risk seafarer" designation

The Indonesian maritime union KPI (Kesatuan Pelaut Indonesia), which represents more than 18,000 seafarers working on ships that regularly sail to the U.S., has urged Indonesian President Susilo Bambang to take immediate steps to deal with a U.S. security clampdown that could bar seafarers from 25 countries from disembarking at U.S. seaports.

The countries, which include Indonesia, are considered by the U.S. administration to pose a "high security risk," says the ITF, with which the Indonesian union is affiliated. The countries appear on a list that forms part of the U.S. Coast Guard-Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Memorandum of Agreement and Standard Operating Procedures Regarding the Detention of Certain High-Risk Crew Members.

The memorandum reveals that the CBP will decide whether a foreign crewmember is allowed to leave a vessel when it arrives at a U.S. port. It also outlines that "high risk" crewmembers include seafarers that are nationals of one of the countries listed.

KPI says a number of foreign shipping companies have indicated that they would replace Indonesian seamen fearing they could face problems at U.S. ports.

Hanafi Rustandi, KPI President, said: "This is a serious threat for Indonesian seamen working overseas.".

The other countries appearing on the list are Afghanistan, Algeria, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Egypt, Eritrea, Iran, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Morocco, North Korea, Oman, Pakistan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, Tunisia, United Arab Emirates and Yemen.

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