Tired of your country and want to explore the world? Well look no further, all you need to do is secretly hide on a vessel and live the life you have always envisioned to…go be a stowaway. Just before you decide to be one, a stowaway is a person who illegally hides him/herself in a ship or vessel without the consent of the shipowner, person in charge, or does not provide customs with the legal documents to board a vessel. Do you still want to be a stowaway? Certainly not. Stowaways have been in existence since international shipping began. While people become stowaways for different reasons, it is deemed as illegal and comes with legal problems for all involved parties when they are not granted leave to land. How should stowaways be treated?
In some cases, stowaways outweigh the number of crew members which creates a plethora of problems for the crew and the captain. However, they are not always criminals, but might pose a threat to those onboard a vessel. In the event that stowaways are found, one should: conduct a detailed search with security personnel and take full security precautions after; check their state of health; find out their identity and their reason for being on board; try to get them hydrated and provide them with food if they are hungry; inform the agent or ship owner; educate them of the rules and safety tips, and lastly, the master should write a statement with all the information of the stowaways to provide to the port where they will be disembarked.
Stowaways may be imprisoned or fined as it is illegal to embark on a ship or vessel without proper documentation. However, people are in unbearable situation and their only option is to migrate for their lives. These people are asylum seekers, illegal immigrants and sometimes criminals. There must be a rational behind asylum seekers and illegal immigrants becoming stowaways – probably because of domestic abuse or other detrimental activities they refuse to be engaged in, but have to leave because of the limited time they have on hands. On the other hand, criminals might have the intentions to cause harm or to flee a country after committing a crime, and should be put behind bars and be held accountable if that is the case.
The most suitable thing to do if you are in danger at your home country is to follow through the necessary channels, starting with your security force. The government of every country has put in place stringent security measures for their citizens whose lives are at risk to death, or those who are living in fear and are targeted. If not, there are some other personnel within the judicial hierarchy who you can contact – in Jamaica, it would be a lawyer or a politician. We can assure you that these channels can never be exhausted, and should be utilized. We implore everyone from all over the world to follow protocols for their own safety, but NEVER risk becoming a stowaway.