Slave Free Seas Updates

Human Trafficking in Thai Criminal Law: A Crime against the State or a Crime against the Person?

22 Nov 16

Read Thomas Harré’s piece on the human trafficking of fishermen in Thailand for the United Nations Action for Cooperation Against Trafficking in Persons blog here

Success! Amendment to New Zealand laws requires foreign fishing vessels to reflag from today

1 May 16

Slave Free Seas’ joint campaign with Walk Free to push through an amendment to New Zealand’s fisheries law was a success, and the new law has just entered into force. Read the New Zealand Herald’s coverage of this story here.

Register for the 2016 International Maritime Human Rights Conference

11 Feb 16

This first International Maritime Human Rights Conference will focus on explicitly addressing the issue of maritime human rights and associated welfare issues throughout the maritime environment by bringing together industry, civil society and government-level leaders for discussion and debate on current issues that universally affect the human element at sea.

The event will openly tackle human rights requirements in the maritime environment. It will explore topical and emerging matters, and it will investigate human rights protections and available remedies for abuses. Undertaken by both national and international experts, the event will deliver incisive commentary and concepts to the audience for consideration and debate.

The Conference is to be held in London on 14th September 2016. Find out more and register here.

Incredible reporting on human trafficking on board fishing vessels in Indonesia

25 Mar 15

Reporters from the Associated Press have reported on the systematic trafficking of fishermen on board fishing vessels operating in remote parts of the Indonesian archipelago. Read the story here

Death on Korean fishing trawler investigated

9 May 14

Police are investigating the death of an Indonesian fisherman who was killed aboard a Korean trawler in New Zealand waters. The dead crewman died on the Korean vessel GOM379 on Monday and the ship was met by police and maritime authorities when it berthed at Bluff about 3pm on Tuesday.

The GOM379 is operated by Ngapuhi’s Northland Deepwater Limited Partnership, which charters the Korean vessel. In 2011, Ngapuhi defended the conditions aboard the vessel during a ministerial inquiry into conditions on foreign charter vessels, where claims of on board slavery were made.

Read more here

New footage of working conditions on board fishing vessels

9 May 14

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L-n1SUj6jdI

Fishing pay fight damaging NZ

16 Apr 14

Ngapuhi, New Zealand’s biggest tribe, has lost a bid to have the right to continue using cheap Third World labour on foreign boats fishing its deepwater quotas, political sources say.

The iwi had won an amendment which would have given it permission to continue using foreign charter fishing vessels (FCVs) after 2016. All other fishing companies will be forced to fly New Zealand flags from that year.

The full story can be read here.

Deals sought to underpay fishing crews

8 Apr 14

About 480 men working on South Korean fishing boats chartered to New Zealand companies have been underpaid by about $25 million, court documents show.

An Indonesian manning agent, working for companies chartered by New Zealand blue-water fishing companies, has sent its men to central Java to persuade the seamen to settle for less money.

Despite government assurances that it would crack down on labour and human rights abuses on foreign charter vessels, no official action has been taken over underpayment of crews.

More than a third of the 1300 foreign crewmen working the exclusive economic zone are underpaid, claims before the Employment Court and the Admiralty High Court show. More here.

ITF president weighs in on multi-million dollar fisheries dispute as New Zealand Parliament delays action

30 Mar 14

International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF) president Paddy Crumlin has met with key stakeholders in Auckland, New Zealand, about the ongoing campaign to secure NZD30 million in unpaid wages for fishers in the region.

Maritime Union of New Zealand National Secretary Joe Fleetwood said the New Zealand Parliament needed to pass its fishing slavery laws as a matter of urgency.

“The bill has now been pushed number 27 on the parliamentary bills list, placing it in real danger of not being addressed before the upcoming national election,” Mr Fleetwood said.

“This is outrageous. The New Zealand Government is missing in action when it comes to protecting the rights and welfare of fishers in our region.”

The full press release is available to read here.

Captain of Oyang 77 found guilty.

17 Jan 14

A New Zealand Court has found the Captain of the Oyang 77 guilty of discarding fish at sea, and misreporting catch. The ship is owned by the Sajo Oyang Corporation, while Southern Storm Fishing 2007 Ltd was the fishing quota permit holder and chartered the vessel. A dispute over pay arose when the vessel docked at Lyttelton in March 2012, but Judge Callaghan rejected the suggestion crew members had embellished or made up evidence to put pressure on Sajo to resolve their pay claims. Read the stuff.co.nz article here.

New Zealand should pass laws cleaning up labour abuse in the fishing industry

15 Jan 14

It’s been almost two years since the ministerial inquiry into labour abuse in New Zealand’s fishing industry. The New Zealand Labour Party is today reminding the National Party government that legislation has yet to be passed. Read the press release here.

TED Talk: Inside the Secret Shipping Industry

8 Jan 14

Presented by journalist Rose George, this talk gives some insight into the importance of the shipping industry to the global economy. Watch it here.

"Focus on human trafficking shifts to labor"

1 Dec 13

This article on human trafficking in Chicago contains some good comments by Luis CdeBaca: “The emotive content of sex trafficking, and especially child sex trafficking, is what brings people in. … It is what brings policymakers to update the laws,” said Luis CdeBaca, the State Department’s ambassador-at-large in its effort to combat human trafficking. “It’s a normal process to start to work with child sex trafficking. And then with time and expertise, you start to gain the understanding of the truth of compelled service. … Any time you have a vulnerable and excluded population and greed, you could end up having slavery.”

Read the full Chicago Tribune article here.

Indonesian fishermen claim exploitation

27 Nov 13

Journalist Michael Field discusses his investigations into human rights abuses on board foreign fishing vessels operating in New Zealand’s waters. Read the full story, and watch the video here.

OSCE Report Equates Human Trafficking to Torture

10 Oct 13

The full report can be read and downloaded in pdf form here.

UC postgraduate investigates allegations of human trafficking

14 Aug 13

A University of Canterbury (UC) law postgraduate student has investigated allegations of human trafficking for forced labour in foreign charter vessels in New Zealand’s fishing industry and the country’s response to such allegations.

Thomas Harre says in some instances, abuse appears to amount to forced labour. Fishermen are taken through deceptive recruitment strategies into a jurisdictional twilight zone where their labour is exploited.

As a country we do not go far enough in terms of identifying victims of this type of human trafficking. Without official status as a victim of human trafficking, a trafficked individual has almost no ability to achieve redress for the abuse they have suffered.

read the media release here

Press Release

1 Aug 13

Last week, the Primary Production Select Committee allowed a loophole to be created in the new rules governing foreign charter vessels operating in New Zealand waters.

This loophole will allow some foreign vessels to continue to fish in New Zealand waters, despite a general rule requiring all fishing vessels to be flagged as New Zealand ships by 2016.

The importance of this general rule cannot be understated: for the last two decades, there have been instances of irresponsible foreign vessel operators abusing the labour of foreign fishermen in New Zealand waters. In some instances, this abuse appears to have amounted to human trafficking for forced labour.

Read our full press release on the issues here

Obama's Speech to the Clinton Global Initiative

29 Jul 13

Some extracts from this address:

“I do not use that word, “slavery” lightly. It evokes obviously one of the most painful chapters in our nation’s history. But around the world, there’s no denying the awful reality. When a man, desperate for work, finds himself in a factory or on a fishing boat or in a field, working, toiling, for little or no pay, and beaten if he tries to escape — that is slavery.

“The United States will continue to be a leader in this global movement. We’ve got a comprehensive strategy. We’re shining a spotlight on the dark corners where it persists. … [W]e’re doing more than ever — with our annual trafficking report, with new outreach and partnerships — to give countries incentives to meet their responsibilities and calling them out when they don’t.

“Most of all, we’re going after the traffickers. New anti-trafficking teams are dismantling their networks. Last year, we charged a record number of these predators with human trafficking. We’re putting them where they belong — behind bars.

Thai navy denies allegation of human trafficking

23 Jul 13

Thailand’s navy denied on Friday a Reuters report that its personnel were involved in a lucrative smuggling and trafficking network that exploits minority Rohingya Muslims fleeing persecution in Myanmar.

The Reuters investigation, citing people smugglers and Rohingyas who made the journey, found that Thai naval security forces were involved in the smuggling of Rohingya Muslims. They have fled Myanmar, also known as Burma, in sharply growing numbers over the last year following outbreaks of religious violence at home.

Read more here

Fighting the business of modern slavery

2 Jul 13

Watch this video to learn about how a smartphone app can help law enforcement fight human trafficking.