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Prosecutors reopen probe into death of Indonesian fishery worker

2016/12/19 18:37:18

From The Reporter website

Taipei, Dec. 19 (CNA) The investigation into the death last year of an Indonesian fishery worker on a Taiwanese boat has been reopened on the instruction of the Control Yuan, the watchdog arm of the government, a spokesperson for the Pingtung District Prosecutors' Office said on Monday.

The case will be reopened based on forensic and video evidence that the Control Yuan, in its report on the matter, deemed crucial, the Apple Daily reported, citing the spokeswoman Chen Yun-ju (陳韻如).

The Indonesian man in his 40s, identified only by the name Supriyanto, died in August 2015 of septicemia from infected wounds because he was not provided with timely treatment after being physically assaulted about a month earlier on the fishing boat the "Futzuchun," the Control Yuan said in its report in October.

It said Supriyanto's wounds became infected and he developed septicemia because the captain refused to dock at the nearest port to seek medical attention.

The report also censured Taiwan's Fisheries Agency, saying that its regulations and oversight of employment agencies and employers of fishery workers like Supriyanto were inadequate.

The agency was negligent and tardy in investigating Supriyanto's death and compensating his family, the report said.

In its examination of the case, the Control Yuan found that prosecutors had disregarded parts of the forensic report on Supriyanto's death and had missed crucial evidence in three video clips because of translation problems.

Taking into consideration all those issues, the Control Yuan made a formal demand for the Pingtung District Prosecutors' Office to reopen its investigation into the case.

The district prosecutors' office carried out its first investigation in September 2015 and wrapped up the case on Nov. 10, concluding that Supriyanto had died of an infection.

The swift closure of the case drew attention in Taiwan and abroad, with foreign media, including the BBC reporting it, and local labor right groups uncovering evidence of the unjust treatment to which migrant workers are habitually subjected.

On Monday, the Apple Daily in Taiwan published a feature on the issue under the headline "Shame on Taiwan; Over 10,000 Fishery Workers Abused on Deep-Sea Fishing Boats."

The paper said the feature based on information provided by a Taiwanese non-profit news site called The Reporter and that it printed the results of the investigation with The Reporter's exclusive authorization.

The Reporter (click here for the Chinese story) said Supriyanto was hired via illegal labor brokers in Taiwan and Indonesia; and after his death, his family was tricked by Taiwanese brokers into signing an agreement not to pursue legal action or seek compensation.

Supriyanto, a former bus conductor from the Indonesian town of Tegal, started work on a Taiwanese fishing boat for the first time in 2014 in the hope of earning more money to support his family, according to the news site.

In 2015, he was hired to work as one of 11 crew members on the Kaohsiung-registered Futzuchun, which set off from Tonggang, Pingtung County to fish for tuna in the western Pacific Ocean, according to The Reporter.

Three months later, Supriyanto died on the ship, the news site said.

In a report published in April, the international environmental group Greenpeace said Taiwan had no regulations in place to protect the rights of contracted foreign fishermen and there were no specified minimum wages or working hours, among other issues.

Greenpeace said a distant-water fisheries act that Taiwan legislated this year and was due to take effect in January next year would be toothless unless it was properly implemented.

The report followed a "yellow card" warning issued to Taiwan by the European Commission on Oct. 1, 2015 to clean up its fisheries industry or face economic sanctions from the European Union.

(By Elizabeth Hsu)
ENDITEM/pc/AW