Chinese and Hong Kong fishing companies are among a growing number of firms involved in forced labour practices towards Indonesian migrant workers, a new report by environmental group Greenpeace reveals, underlining the challenges in eradicating modern slavery practices at sea despite continuous diplomatic efforts.
The report released on Monday found that 26 firms from mainland China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, the Ivory Coast and Nauru were cited in scores of complaints of forced labour at sea from 2019 to 2020.
With more than 200,000 seafarers, Indonesia is the world’s third-largest seafaring manpower, behind China and the Philippines, data from Indonesia’s foreign ministry shows.
The Indonesian Migrant Workers Union (SBMI), whom Greenpeace collaborated with, said it received 338 complaints between September 2014 to July 2020. Of those, 104 complaints were submitted last year alone, up from 86 complaints in 2019.
Greenpeace analysed reports submitted from May 2019 to June 2020, and identified forced labour in 62 cases, almost double the 34 cases recorded in its report released two years ago. The group also identified 45 vessels of interest, far higher than 2019’s figure of 13.
In most of the 45 suspected ships, common indicators of forced labour included the withholding of wages, abusive working and living conditions, deception, and abuse of vulnerability, according to Greenpeace.
“Alleged cases of forced labour to migrant fishers have been well documented over the years with no signs of improving. In fact we’re seeing cases and complaints increase,” Ephraim Batungbacal, regional oceans research coordinator for Greenpeace Southeast Asia, said in a statement.
A Foreign Ministry spokesman did not immediately respond to requests for comments on the group’s findings.
The original article can be found at scmp.com