JAKARTA, KOMPAS.com – Indonesian Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi has conveyed her concerns over the deaths of four Indonesian crewmen aboard two Chinese trawlers last May and June.
“[Foreign Minister Retno] urged a thorough investigation [of the fishermen’s deaths] to China’s Ambassador to Indonesia [Xiao Qian],” said Indonesian Foreign Ministry Director for Citizens Protection Judha Nugraha in a virtual conference on August 13.
“She also called for those responsible to be tried in a court of law.”
Judha added that the Indonesian government is still awaiting the results of the Chinese authorities’ investigation into the deaths of the men, who were identified as B, AS, R and AW.
“[The Foreign Ministry] is also working to ensure the crewmen’s rights. It is to this end that we are coordinating with the labor companies sending the men and other related institutions to pay the men’s salaries, deposits and compensation to their families,” Judha added.
The step comes as the Destructive Fishing Watch (DFW) and other nongovernmental organizations urged the government to carry out inspections and other checks on foreign fishing vessels to protect Indonesians working there.
“The Indonesian government has yet to monitor or inspect the well-being of Indonesian nationals working on fishing trawlers in Indonesian or foreign waters,” said DFW Indonesia National Coordinator Moh. Abdi Suhufan in a written statement on August 12.
“Indonesian crews on foreign ships are at risk from human trafficking, exploitation, deceitful recruiting practices, low pay and overtime, as well as appalling work conditions.”
Abdi acknowledged that this would be a difficult step because of the Indonesian Ministry of Labor’s limited personnel, the absence of procedures to carry out checks, and the lack of instruments to carry out inspections on fishing trawlers.
ILO Indonesia Senior Program Officer Lusiani Yulia agrees. “The inspections will need the cooperation of all parties involved to be effective. This includes business owners and workers to participate in the inspections.”
DFW Indonesia noted that 13 Indonesian workers working in Chinese fishing vessels during a seven-month period between November 22, 2019 and July 19, 2020 ended up as victims in their workplaces, as 11 died while two others remained missing.
The casualties among Indonesian crews included Fredrick Bidori, who died in Peru on July 19 following a workplace accident. His death came a month after those of B, AS, R, dan AW.
Their ship captain buried the four at sea in May and June despite the Indonesian government’s efforts to repatriate their remains to Indonesia.
(Writers: Tsarina Maharani, Achmad Nasrudin Yahya | Editors: Diamanty Meiliana, Bayu Galih)