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Jakarta Post

China commits to probe alleged exploitation of Indonesian sailors: Foreign Ministry

  • Apriza Pinandita
    Apriza Pinandita

    The Jakarta Post

Jakarta   /   Thu, May 14, 2020   /   07:31 am
China commits to probe alleged exploitation of Indonesian sailors: Foreign Ministry Chinese fishing boats allegedly used illegally in Korea's exclusive zone are moored at a port in Incheon, South Korea, on Oct. 10, 2016. (Yonhap via AP/Yun Tae-hyun) (Yonhap via AP/Yun Tae-hyun)

Indonesia and China are working together closely to investigate alleged human rights abuses against dozens of Indonesian crewmen aboard Chinese fishing vessels.

The allegations emerged recently with the report of four Indonesian sailors registered to Chinese fishing ship Long Xing 629, who died after reportedly enduring poor working conditions aboard the ship.

A viral report by South Korea's Munhwa Broadcasting Corporation (MBC) on the alleged exploitation has sparked an outcry in Indonesia, with members of the public questioning the conditions faced by Indonesian sailors while working on board.

The Foreign Ministry said Jakarta and Beijing had discussed the case and the Chinese government had expressed its commitment to embark on further investigation based on the preliminary information and investigation by Indonesian authorities.

“China is open for any follow-up and findings from the investigation carried out by Indonesia,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Teuku Faizasyah said in a virtual press briefing on Wednesday, adding that authorities of the two countries would coordinate.

Faizasyah said the Indonesian ambassador in Beijing had met with consular officials from the Chinese Foreign Ministry and had been informed about the commitment for an investigation, including to communicate directly with the ship operator, Dalian Ocean Fishing Co.

Read also: Indonesian sailors’ deaths on Chinese fishing vessel raise questions about working conditions

The South China Morning Post (SCMP) cited crewmen of the Long Xing 629 as saying that they were sometimes forced to work for up to two days without rest, had been subjected to violence and discrimination and faced hunger and dehydration.

The Chinese foreign ministry said on Monday it was investigating the matter but added that some of the allegations were “inconsistent” with information it had gathered, though it did not elaborate, SCMP reports.

The Indonesian crewmen who have returned to Indonesia are reportedly still waiting for thousands of dollars in unpaid wages.

Foreign Ministry director for citizen protection Judha Nugraha said Wednesday that 14 crew members who had returned were undergoing questioning by the National Police’s Criminal Investigation Department.

The investigation was aimed at shedding light on conditions aboard the vessels during months at sea, and the results would be consolidated with the findings of the Chinese authorities.

Judha said the families of the deceased had received compensation from the operator of the vessels.

“However, we are still trying to conclude the payment of [unpaid] wages and insurance. It involves various parties, including the [ship operator], Dalian Ocean Fishing, and manning agencies in Indonesia and China,” Judha said during the briefing.

Jakarta is expediting the process so that their rights can be fulfilled according to their seafarer’s employment agreement.