Indonesian ambassador for the United Nations Hasan Kleib speaks at the UN Office in Geneva. (Photo courtesy of the Foreign Affairs Ministry)

Indonesia Calls on UN to Protect Rights of Fishermen


MAY 12, 2020

Jakarta. Indonesia called on the United Nations to do more to protect its fishermen at a Human Rights Council virtual assembly on May 8, after allegations surfaced that the bodies of Indonesian fishermen were being dumped into the sea by Chinese vessels.

The call was made by Indonesia's permanent representative to the UN in Geneva, Hasan Kleib, at the assembly to discuss the effects of the coronavirus pandemic on human rights.

"The council must protect the rights of vulnerable groups, including Indonesian fishermen," Hasan said in a statement on Tuesday.

Hasan asked the council to make more effort to keep track of human rights violations in the fishing industry – something that is often overlooked – during this pandemic when food security has become even more paramount.

The ambassador pointed to the recent sea burials of Indonesian fishermen who had been working under "slavery-like" conditions on Chinese vessels as examples of gross violations of human rights. 

"[Fishermen's] rights are often violated, many of them forced to live in inhumane, slavery-like conditions, which have led to many deaths," Hasan said in the statement.

Hasan also called on the council to ensure every country has access to health products – including test kits, medications and vaccines when they are available – needed to counter the pandemic.

Since the Benjina case in 2016, when a multinational fishing company was found guilty of gross human rights violations, Indonesia has consistently advocated for greater human rights protection and better safety measures for fishermen. 

The case involved the discovery of over 300 foreign fishermen stranded in poor living conditions in Benjina in Maluku's Aru Islands in eastern Indonesia. 

Authorities also found mass graves of fishermen who had reportedly been subjected to forced labor on board Thai-flagged fishing vessels.