The Ministry of Foreign Affairs yesterday summoned Indonesian Representative to Taiwan Robert James Bintaryo over the Southeast Asian country’s frequent inspection of Taiwanese fishing boats, which the ministry said has raised concerns about the use of excessive force.
The ministry said in a statement that Department of East Asian and Pacific Affairs Director-General Winston Chen (陳文儀) lodged a protest with Bintaryo over Jakarta’s boarding and inspection of Taiwanese fishing boats seven times this year.
“While we understand the Indonesian government’s policy to step up efforts to crack down on illegal drug smuggling at sea ... it is against international custom for Jakarta to block the passage of and recklessly inspect our nation’s fishing boats without obtaining concrete evidence of illegal activities,” the ministry said.
Such practices have seriously infringed on the boats’ freedom of navigation, it added.
The ministry’s protest came on the heels of an incident in which a Taiwanese fishing boat, the Da Wei No. 13, was stopped and inspected by Indonesian patrol boats on Tuesday, only one day after it was released.
The boat, carrying seven crew members, was on Sunday seized by Indonesian authorities in the Strait of Malacca while returning to Taiwan. It was later moved to a harbor in Selat Panjang in Indonesia’s Riau Province for inspection.
The Fisheries Agency has protested Indonesia’s treatment of the boat, citing Article 44 of the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea, which stipulates that “states bordering straits shall not hamper transit passage and shall give appropriate publicity to any danger to navigation or overflight within or over the strait of which they have knowledge. There shall be no suspension of transit passage.”
Bintaryo pledged to relay to his government the ministry’s demand for an explanation and its concerns, including that Jakarta’s use of excessive force has caused fear and a backlash among Taiwanese fishermen, the ministry said.
“Even though fighting transnational drug smuggling is a common goal of the international community, the protection of fishermen’s rights is also an issue of great importance to Taiwan and Indonesia,” the ministry said.
The ministry called on the Indonesian government to follow in the steps of its Japanese and Philippines counterparts and establish a dialogue mechanism on maritime law enforcement with Taiwan to avoid similar conflicts.
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