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Second Korean Fishing Vessel arrested in New Zealand

Feb 17th 2012

Second Korean Fishing Vessel arrested in New Zealand

Slave Free Seas have today instigated the arrest of a second Korean flagged vessel berthed in Lyttleton Harbour, Christchurch, New Zealand, with claims of unpaid wages and other human rights abuses.

“It is the second vessel in a long list of vessels that we have an interest in because of covert ownership arrangements and attempts to prevent compliance with NZ law “ said Craig Tuck spokesperson for the Trust.

These vessels are now attracting international attention as modern day slave ships as defined under the UN definition of trafficking, according to the UN International Labour Organisation (ILO) and European Commission Operational Indicators of Trafficking in Human Beings.

As many as 2000 foreign men are currently working in New Zealand waters, many exploited labour from poor countries such as Indonesia.

“ A very positive outcome has been New Zealand’s Ministry of Fisheries, Department of Labour and the NZ Police taking these illegal operations seriously and actively progressing various investigations. If we can clean up our waters from this shameful practise, we can return to promoting our clean image and our law abiding fishing industry as one of the best in the world. Why wouldn’t we do this? “ Tuck added

END

Editor’s notes:

Researchers at the Business School at the University of Auckland in New Zealand revealed the first detailed and documented cases of human trafficking in New Zealand in 2011.

The paper, Not in New Zealand's Waters, Surely? documented labour abuses, and in some cases disturbing human rights breaches, on foreign-chartered fishing vessels contracted to New Zealand companies and operating in the exclusive economic zone.

Their work indicated many of the 2000 foreign men working in New Zealand waters are modern day slaves under the UN definition of trafficking, and according to the UN International Labour Organisation (ILO) and European Commission Operational Indicators of Trafficking in Human Beings.

In response to this and growing media coverage of alleged abuses on other foreign owned vessels, a group of New Zealand nationals formed an organisaton and charitable trust -Slave Free Seas (SFS) (), headed by Barrister Craig Tuck.

On December 2nd, 2011 Slave Free Seas instigated the arrest of a Korean flagged vessel berthed in Lyttleton Harbour, Christchurch, New Zealand, with claims of unpaid wages and allegations of physical and sexual abuse.


This arrest signaled the beginning of an international test case to prove existing laws can be applied not just talked about or ignored entirely. Since then worldwide interest has grown in monitoring developments in New Zealand as a case study in how to confront and deal with the complexities of modern slavery using existing laws and protocols.

The aim, says SFS is to develop practical prosecution protocols and remedies (using private and public resources) that can be used globally to eradicate modern slavery.


Based on the University findings and a growing body of evidence, “this is not a wages dispute”, continues Tuck, “it’s not workplace bullying. It appears to be serious brazen offending by transnational companies and individuals, against International law and domestic legislation. This is a dirty supply chain and dirty dealings in human trafficking against people who cannot stand up for themselves. It looks like a multi million dollar scam, not third world opportunistic crime”.

Slave Free Seas recognizes that this current situation is just the tip of the iceberg. “There are laws, and we want them applied and enforced,” says Tuck.

One of Slave Free Seas supporters is Matt Freidman, from the United Nations Interagency Project on Human Trafficking (UNIAP) Regional Project Manager out of Bangkok, Thailand

“Throughout the world, there are many fishing fleets that have highly exploitative, slave-like conditions,” says Friedman, Up until now, very little has been done to address these conditions anywhere. The events that are unfolding in New Zealand have now set a precedent for the first international test case on this matter – to draw a line in the sand for the fishing industry to say this abuse will end here. This groundbreaking effort could become the beginning of a much larger movement to address these same issues on fishing boats all over the world. The result of this being? A significant form of slavery will be put to rest forever.”


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