A coalition of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) that fight for the rights of migrant workers rallied in Taipei Tuesday outside an annual international workshop on combating human trafficking.
The protesters were demanding that the government improve the rights of migrant fishermen following alleged abuses aboard Taiwanese deep sea fishing vessels.
Representatives from some four NGOs, gathered outside Taipei’s Chang Yung-Fa Foundation International Convention Center, where the 2020 International Workshop on Combating Human Trafficking was being held, to urge the government to stop allowing Taiwanese deep sea vessels from sailing under flags of convenience and to include its migrant fishermen into Taiwan’s labor laws.
A flag of convenience is a practice in which a vessel registers and flies a flag other than that of the country of the shipowner to save costs on tax and other fiscal incentives.
Lennon Ying-dah Wong (汪英達), director of the service center and shelter for migrant workers under the Serve the People Association in Taoyuan, cited the case of the Taiwan-owned Da Wang, a 637-tonne distant sea tuna longliner that sails under the flag of Vanuatu. The ship is under investigation for abusive conditions and forced labor.
“The Taiwanese captain and first mate on the Da Wang often physically beat their migrant crew members while the vessel is at sea. We have heard from a victim that nearly all of the migrant fishermen on the ship have been beaten,” Wong said.
Taiwan’s Fisheries Agency also released a statement on Aug. 21 that it had referred the vessel to the Kaohsiung District Prosecutor’s Office for investigation, while the agency’s Deputy Director-General Lin Kuo-ping (林國平) also noted in an interview that day that his agency had limited oversight powers over the Da Wang because it is registered in a foreign country.
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