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Indonesian fishing boat crew left stranded by Taiwanese ship owner

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- Seventy-five Indonesian fishermen, their 5 Taiwanese and 8 mainland Chinese supervisors hired by a Taiwanese ship owner have been held under detention in South Africa for months, according to reports.

The fishermen had been detained at Table Bay, Cape Town by authorities who alleged that they had illegally fished in unauthorized waters off the coast of South Africa and apprehended the ship's Taiwanese captain, according to the Jakarta Globe.

Reports indicated that as their Taiwanese employer had failed to produce required legal documents, the Indonesian fishermen were prohibited from making landfall and were required to remain on the fishing vessel, suffering in squalid conditions for about three months. Local authorities later transferred them to a deportation center in Johannesburg on Saturday, Nov. 30, according to reports.

Local authorities were compelled to transfer the fishermen to a deportation center after reports of their plight emerged, said Miriam Augustus, who voluntarily brought food and water to sustain the Indonesian fishermen.

Despite their plight, the Indonesians insisted on staying in Johannesburg, claiming that they were left penniless as their unscrupulous Taiwanese employers had withheld their wages.

According to a 44-year old fisherman, the fishermen were passed off from one Taiwanese fishing captain to another over a 37-month period, all without receiving pay.

The Taiwanese fishing ship is little more than a seaworthy sweatshop, with a single toilet the only amenity for a crew of 12, said Cassiem Augustus, an inspector at the International Transport Workers' Federation. The conditions suffered by the Indonesian workers are tantamount to human rights abuse and human trafficking, Augustus added. Tricked and abandoned by their employment agents, the fishermen had worked 20 hours a day on undocumented fishing vessels before their detainment by South African authorities, said Augustus.

December 3, 2013    piawliangjohny@
Why Taiwanese fishermen always make so much trouble? Before they did it in Philippines now in Africa. Fisherman of Taiwan always make trouble to get fish on their neighbor country. If Taiwan water has no fish then don't eat fish...
December 3, 2013    kingsolomon@
Attention CLA, this has been your problem for a long, long time, and now it has become an international shame. It’s a big slap on the face of the R.O.C. that has condemned this illegal practice and treatment of foreign workers in Taiwan. Africa is telling the world that it is a HUMAN RIGHTS violation, and Taiwan is still proud of this? These acts have been condoned by the Taiwanese authorities for so long, but this is the first time that it's been actually witnessed by another country. Just like what happened in the U.S.A. when a lady official representing the Taiwan government was convicted and deported of abusing (human rights) her Filipino employees.
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