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Probe sought over Indonesian fishermen's slavery

Commission calls for an end to human rights abuses on Chinese fishing vessels

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Probe sought over Indonesian fishermen's slavery

AICHR Indonesia representative Yuyun Wahyuningrum has called for multilateral cooperation to investigate the ill-treatment of Indonesian fishermen on Chinese fishing vessels. (Photo supplied)

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The Asean Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights (AICHR) has urged the Indonesian government to thoroughly investigate the case of fishermen working under slavery conditions on Chinese fishing vessels.

Four of them died recently, with three of their bodies thrown into the sea.

The Indonesian government learned about the case after a video went viral on May 7 showing crew members of a Chinese boat throwing the corpse of an Indonesian fisherman into the sea.

Meanwhile, on May 8, some 14 Indonesian fishermen who faced slavery and exploitation on Long Xin 629 arrived home and are being held at a quarantine center in Jakarta.

“This is not the first time that Indonesian migrant fishers experienced discrimination and inhuman treatment by foreign fishing companies,” AICHR Indonesia said in a statement on May 12.

The panel urged the government to conduct a comprehensive investigation into allegations of the involvement of the fishing vessels Long Xing 629, Long Xing 605, Long Xing 802 and Tian Yu 8.

The government must also investigate manning agencies, such as PT. Lakemba Perkasa Bahari, PT. Alfira Perdana Jaya and PT. Karunia Bahari, over the possibility of human trafficking.

It said the deaths of Indonesian migrant fishermen are evidence of the systematic abuse of human rights at sea.

AICHR also called on the Indonesian government to ensure that the victims and their families have access to justice and the truth, and receive adequate, effective and prompt reparations for the harm they have suffered.

Yuyun Wahyuningrum, representative of AICHR Indonesia, urged multilateral cooperation among countries to handle the case.

“I would like to call for collective maritime responsibility and multilateral cooperation among relevant states to ensure that this case will not be repeated by setting the standards on human rights at sea,” Wahyuningrum told UCA News.

“We must protect those who work in the fishing industry, tourism, shipping industry, offshore oil and gas industries and a range of other activities at sea, including women who work in coastal fishing industries,” she said.

She said the rights to work in decent and favorable conditions and free from being subjected to trafficking in persons and slavery are guaranteed by the ASEAN Human Rights Declaration.

“Companies have the responsibility to respect human rights and ensure remedies as reflected in the 2011 UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights,” she added.

Previously, Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi said 46 Indonesians were among the crew of the four troubled Chinese fishing vessels.

“Some of them didn’t receive a salary and those who did get paid only received US$120 for 13 months' work,” she said. “They were also forced to drink filtrated seawater and worked for 18 hours a day."

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