Indonesian Minister of Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, Susi Pudjiastuti, fittingly announced on International Human Rights Day, 10 Dec 2015 that she has signed a ministerial regulation that requires fisheries business actors to implement a system that ensures human rights are respected in their operations. The regulation also requires this fisheries business actors’ system to be certified by an independent certification body that will be accredited by the Ministry’s human rights team.
The regulation is applicable to all fisheries business actors that possess fishing vessels whose permits are issued by the Ministry of Marine Affairs and Fisheries, or that lease and/or manage fishing vessels whose permits are issued by the Ministry of Marine Affairs and Fisheries; fish processing units owners; and fishery product exporters.
The regulation has been developed by the Ministry with the support of organizations that promote respect for human rights such as the Foundation for International Human Rights Reporting Standards (FIHRRST), Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the International Organization for Migration (IOM), and the International Labour Organization (ILO). This support has been provided through a number of discussions and meetings including an international conference that involved other fisheries stakeholders.
The minister underlined that the regulation is to be enforced following recent “shocking” discoveries of human trafficking and forced labour by fisheries actors in Benjina and Ambon.
The Indonesian government launched an investigation earlier this 2015 into fishing in the region, which discovered that more than 1,450 crew members – the majority from Myanmar and Cambodia — were not paid despite being forced to work extensive hours. Some fishermen have testified that they were beaten, forced to work almost nonstop without clean water or proper food, paid little or nothing and prevented from returning home.
It is expected that the ministerial regulation on human rights system implementation and certification will mitigate and prevent human rights violations in the Indonesian fisheries business. Ministerial Decrees will be developed and issued in early 2016 in regard to certification procedures and criteria on the fisheries human rights system.