UN Rapporteur On Trafficking In Persons Quotes NZ Action
''The action taken against the foreign charter vessels in New Zealand marks an important step forward in the global movement towards combating human trafficking, and sends a strong signal to human traffickers that they cannot act with impunity," notes the UN Special Rapporteur on trafficking in persons, especially women and children, Ms. Joy Ngozi Ezeilo. The statement made today, follows a week in which New Zealand officials interviewed crew from two Korean fishing vessels, who have made serious allegations of human rights abuses in our waters.
Craig Tuck, legal advocate for the underpaid and abused Indonesian fishermen being interviewed in New Zealand, says he is encouraged to see the countries labor officials take their cases seriously "All we are asking for is for our laws as they stand to be applied," says Tuck. " New Zealand has an opportunity to become a world leader in this and we can only hope our government follows through and actually enforces the law." "This is a multi million dollar industry which in some sectors operates like an international cartel - crossing jurisdictions with slavery practices akin to those of a century ago, where the treatment of some of these crew beggars belief, and sadly where the profiteering, cares little about the cost of disposable people and their families." Tuck said after spending time with government officials in
Christchurch New Zealand this week. Slave Free Seas, the anti slavery group comments " We believe this is now a serious criminal investigation being followed in New Zealand....and we are receiving daily messages from around the globe watching these events unfold . New Zealand could be a world leader in this." New Zealand waters have for some time leased quotas of fishing rights to Korean owned vessels , whose list of human rights abuses are only now coming to light . The abuses which include nonpayment or underpayment of wages, and physical and sexual abuse, have sparked international interest in the case with the arrest of further vessels in New Zealand waters imminent
Sequence of Events November /December 2011
November 1/ 2nd NZ DOL interview Melilla (foreign charted vessel) crew as part of a random inspection and show the crew ‘Department of Labour factsheet; important information for foreign fishing crews working in New Zealand waters” Although this is a requirement for AIP – the crew claim this is the first time they have even been shown this factsheet
November 12th Slave Free Seas (SFS – a New Zealand advocacy group) are alerted by the crew re underpayment of wages and physical and sexual abuses on board
November 15th, Craig Tuck (SFS) and Daren Coulston (Crew Representative) meet with 203 crew, hear concerns, meet with United (Andre Kotzikas) as the COP guarantor of crew wages and the crew welfare officer Chris Ludeke. Andre Kotzikas informs SFS ,the crew and the New Zealand public on TV3, that he acts as guarantor will see the crew right on their wages if there is a shortfall. SFS inform Andre Kotzikas the crew payment issue is with the Employer Taejin Fishing Company limited not United. The crew appoints Daren Coulston and lawyers Dawson & Associates to represent them
November 16th Daren Coulston meets with another Indonesia crew, off the Korean vessel 201, who have similar issues. This crew also appoint Coulston and lawyers Dawson & Associates to represent them
November 29th a female Indonesian translator female is assaulted while attempting to help the crew give crucial legal statements, charges are laid with NZ Police Intervening period – without prejudice negotiations
- The amount of claim for both vessels is sent to United,
- Requests for contact details of the employer Taejin are not supplied
- United resist paying a goodwill bond to an independent third party.
- Crew state they will keep working as long as they are not abused, families not intimidated back home
- and timesheets are accurately kept by the employer We follow the Code of Practise protocols until it became evident that:
- The owners never made an appearance other than via their lawyers; and
- The owners/charterers were not going to put up the security that we requested into Trust.
Attempted negotiations with United to pay the crew through an out of court settlement fail
Dec 2nd Slave Free Seas instigated the arrest of a Korean flagged fishing vessel Melilla 203 in Lyttelton NZ with worldwide interest from foreign government authorities and United Nations officials. Its is alleged the Indonesian crew are owed $1.22 million in unpaid wages, interest and costs and serious allegations are being brought against the ships captain regarding human rights abuses
Dec 14th United confirm to high court of NZ that they have quarantined NZ$1.22 m as security against wages & costs.gGuidelines set out in the Code are followed
Dec 15th the vessel is released from bond and free to sail. Crew say they want assurance that they will be paid properly if they go to sea and want to amend a clause in their contract accordingly to be paid the minimum wage 2 weeks after the trip ends.
DOL staff decide to investigate the Melilla case 15 Melilla crew are summarily dismissed for ‘breach of contract’ and told they will be sent home. Chris Ludeke and others attempt to make Indonesian crew board a bus to Christchurch airport at 3am in the morning but the crew refuse to go and are abused, threatened and intimidated. Had crew been successfully removed the case against Taejin would have been dropped as the crew would have been unable to testify (removing witnesses is the same tactic used on Oyang 75 and Shin Ji vessels also involved in human rights abuses in New Zealand waters)
DEC 16TH the crew are separated to 5 different locations
Dec 19th Craig Tuck and crew representative Daren Coulston fly to Christchurch. DOL investigators are also in Christchurch SFS have followed the Code of Practice protocols until it became evident that: 1. The owners did not make an appearance other than via their lawyers; and 2. The owners/charterers were not going to put up the security that SFS requested into Trust.
Following the vessel was released under bond, SFS continued to follow the Code, but the crew were summarily dismissed and threatened with the owner’s lawyers are saying that Korean law applies, and not NZ.
Thus the Code clearly does not work, and the owners have no intention of complying with their obligations under the MWA.
Dec 20th Korean human rights deputy director meets with Oyang 75 crew for their investigation into abuses on the vessels
Dec 21st - Fifteen of the Melilla 203 crew are flown home having not been paid the minimum wage
Dec 22nd -UN Special Rapporteur on
trafficking in persons quotes NZ action on Fishing boat
What the international enquiries received by Slave Free Seas are : Will New Zealands DOL decide to address the serious aspect of human trafficking in NZ waters and commit to enforcing the law? b) Will they choose to appoint a labour inspector to issue an order that guarantees the men get paid what they are owed immediately c) Will the the criminal aspect of using fraudulent employment contracts be determined as a matter that will be legally addressed?
d) Will the police be instructed by DOL to follow up on a number of serious allegations referred to them ? e) Will UFL/owners have their AIP withdrawn/suspended until these matters are addressed properly.?