JAPAN P&I NEWS: IMMIGRATION FINE IN BRAZIL
Kindly note that Brazilian Immigration authorities have recently decided on a very peculiar interpretation of the OIT convention 108 and Brazilian Law and Bylaws related to crewmembers on board ships calling in Brazilian Ports.
NEW INTERPRETATION OF THE LAW
The OIT CONVENTION 108 was put in force in Brazil by Degree 58.825/66 and foresees that the crewmembers in possession of a valid SEAMAN’s BOOK do not require a visa in their passports.
The argument of the Immigration authority now is that SEAMAN’s BOOK issued in a Country which did not sign the convention will not be accepted in Brazil.
Surprisingly Brazil has accepted this document from the Philippines (for example) for decades and now they realized that it is not valid.
WHAT IS OUR LAWYERS UNDERSTANDING
Brazilian Law (Law 6.815/80 and Decree 86.715/81) states that a crewmember must present a valid SEAMANs BOOK (in accordance with the OIT convention 108) to be able to go ashore or disembark. Additionally the Law states that the crewmembers can present some other documents which proves his conditions as crewmember.
In our lawyers opinion, there are some issues which can be argued in this case :
1.) The SEAMANs BOOK is only required if the crewmember disembarks or comes ashore while the vessel is in Port. If the crewmember does not disembark, there will be no need to present a SEAMANs BOOK. And, as a consequence, no fine can be imposed.
2.) The decision of the Brazilian Government not to accept the SEAMANs BOOK from countries which have not signed the OIT Convention 108 will have diplomatic consequence which we believe must be dealt with by authorities of those countries to discuss with the Brazilian Authorities in this regard, especially countries which maintain diplomatic relations with Brazil, such as the Philippines, for instance.
In any event it is very important to warn members with ships calling Brazilian Ports of the new situation.