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Susi seeks protection for Indonesian 'slaves' in New Zealand waters

  • The Jakarta Post

    The Jakarta Post

Jakarta | Mon, November 30, 2015 | 04:24 pm
Susi seeks protection for Indonesian 'slaves' in New Zealand waters Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Minister Susi Pudjiastuti.(Tempo/Frannoto) (Tempo/Frannoto)

Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Minister Susi Pudjiastuti. (Tempo/Frannoto)

Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Minister Susi Pudjiastuti has asked New Zealand Ambassador to Indonesia David Taylor to urge his government to issue a policy to protect Indonesian migrant workers.

Previously, Susi stated that up to 61,000 Indonesian boat crewmembers were allegedly being treated as slaves on foreign fishing boats operating in New Zealand waters.

"[The crew] work in New Zealand waters on boats owned by Koreans and Taiwanese. I have contacted the New Zealand ambassador to Indonesia [regarding the issue]," Susi said in Jakarta on Monday as quoted by kompas.com.

According to Susi, the crew employed on the boats were victims of slavery as they were treated inhumanely.

She added that New Zealand authorities had stated they would conduct protection steps and soon issue a policy that required foreign-chartered boats to apply for registration.

"[The policy] will be one of the protections that our citizens will receive," said Susi.

She added that illegal fishing practices not only involved the crime of illegal fishing itself, but also other crimes such as slavery, human trafficking and smuggling. Hence, the fisheries business is closely linked to human rights protection.

Hopefully, other archipelagic countries could learn from the Benjina case in Indonesia that had violated human rights due to acts of slavery, added Susi.

The Associated Press in March exposed alleged forced labor practices on the remote island of Benjina in the Aru Islands, Maluku, where the only official fishing operation on the island, PT Pusaka Benjina Resources (PBR), was suspected of treating hundreds of workers as slaves, even locking some people in cages.

The human trafficking and slavery allegedly began when a number of Myanmarese workers were recruited in Thailand and were equipped with falsified seamen'€™s books to enter Indonesia. They were employed on the fisheries project in Benjina without any labor contracts specifying working hours or monthly salaries. (kes)(+)

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