Nine Taiwanese have been indicted on charges related to the forced labor and abuse of migrant workers on a distant-water fishing vessel, the Kaohsiung District Prosecutors’ Office said on Wednesday.
The foreign crew of the Vanuata-flagged Da Wang (大旺), owned and operated by Kaohsiung-based Yong Feng Fishery (永豐國際生物科技公司), were subject to beatings, insults, confinement, and threats to withhold or deduct wages while working in the Pacific Ocean in 2019 and 2020, prosecutors said.
The vessel’s captain surnamed Lin (林), first mate surnamed Liang (梁) and seven others were indicted for their roles in the abuse of more than 20 Indonesian and Philippine workers, prosecutors said.
In some incidents aboard the vessel, Lin and Liang threw fishers’ clothes into the ocean, despite cold temperatures, prosecutors said.
Some Muslim workers were forced to eat pork to survive, as it was often used in meals while at sea, they said.
Liang was also involved in an incident in which a migrant fisher fell to the deck after being struck on the back of the head, prosecutors said, adding that the worker was found dead days after.
An autopsy performed at the Port of Suva in Fiji determined that the fisher died of pulmonary edema, caused by excess fluids in the lungs, they said.
Although the cause of death could not be directly linked to being hit on the head, the incident prompted 19 foreign crew members to quit over physical abuse aboard the ship, prosecutors said.
Although Taiwan has one of the world’s largest distant-water fishing fleets, migrant fishers lack adequate protections, prosecutor Liao Wei-cheng (廖偉程) said.
The “lawlessness” on distant-water fishing vessels leaves migrant workers vulnerable to exploitation, Liao added.
The treatment of fishers on the Da Wang was highlighted in the 2019 Greenpeace Southeast Asia report Seabound: The Journey to Modern Slavery on the High Seas, which detailed the abuse of migrant workers on distant-water fishing vessels, including excessive overtime of more than 20 hours per day and the death of a worker.
In July 2020, the US Customs and Border Protection issued a Withhold Release Order against seafood caught with what it said was reasonable suspicion of forced labor, physical violence, debt bondage, withholding of wages and abusive living conditions on the Da Wang.
The agency in January seized the catch of the ship, and announced it had determined that the Da Wang had used forced labor after investigations found evidence aboard the vessel of all 11 indicators developed by the International Labour Organization to assess forced labor conditions.
Police have detained a Taoyuan couple suspected of over the past two months colluding with human trafficking rings and employment scammers in Southeast Asia to send nearly 100 Taiwanese jobseekers to Cambodia. At a media briefing in Taipei yesterday, the Criminal Investigation Bureau presented items seized from the couple, including alleged victims’ passports, forged COVID-19 vaccination records, mobile phones, bank documents, checks and cash. The man, surnamed Tsai (蔡), and his girlfriend, surnamed Tsan (詹), were taken into custody last month, after police at Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport stopped four jobseekers from boarding a flight to Phnom Penh, said Dustin Lee (李泱輯),
BILINGUAL PLAN: The 17 educators were recruited under a program that seeks to empower Taiwanese, the envoy to the Philippines said The Taipei Economic and Cultural Office in the Philippines on Thursday hosted a send-off event for the first group of English-language teachers from the country who were recruited for a Ministry of Education-initiated program to advance bilingual education in Taiwan. The 14 teachers and three teaching assistants are part of the Taiwan Foreign English Teacher Program, which aims to help find English-language instructors for Taiwan’s public elementary and junior-high schools, the office said. Seventy-seven teachers and 11 teaching assistants from the Philippines have been hired to teach in Taiwan in the coming school year, office data showed. Among the first group is 57-year-old
TRICKED INTO MOVING: Local governments in China do not offer any help, and Taiwanese there must compete with Chinese in an unfamiliar setting, a researcher said Beijing’s incentives for Taiwanese businesspeople to invest in China are only intended to lure them across the Taiwan Strait, after which they receive no real support, an expert said on Sunday. Over the past few years, Beijing has been offering a number of incentives that “benefit Taiwanese in name, while benefiting China in reality,” a cross-strait affairs expert said on condition of anonymity. Strategies such as the “31 incentives” are intended to lure Taiwanese talent, capital and technology to help address China’s economic issues while also furthering its “united front” efforts, they said. Local governments in China do not offer much practical
‘ORDINARY PEOPLE’: A man watching Taiwanese military drills said that there would be nothing anyone could do if the situation escalates in the Taiwan Strait Many people in Taiwan look upon China’s military exercises over the past week with calm resignation, doubting that war is imminent and if anything, feeling pride in their nation’s determination to defend itself. After a visit to Taiwan last week by US House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi, China has sent ships and aircraft across an unofficial buffer between Taiwan and China’s coast and missiles over Taipei and into waters surrounding the nation since Thursday last week. However, Rosa Chang, proudly watching her son take part in Taiwanese military exercises that included dozens of howitzers firing shells into the Taiwan Strait off