Minister Retno Marsudi Urges China to Investigate Ship Crew Deaths



Mahinda Arkyasa

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  • TEMPO.CO, Jakarta - Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi urged the Chinese government to conduct a full investigation and enforce the law towards a number of deaths, burial at sea, and improper working conditions involving Indonesian ship crews onboard Chinese ships.

    "I requested the Chinese government to immediately follow of reports transparently so similar incident will not occur in the future," Retno said after conducting a virtual bilateral meeting with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi on Thursday, July 30, 2020.

    In addition, Minister Retno also urged the Chinese government to exercise legal due process against parties responsible for the deaths of Indonesian ship crews working aboard Chinese ships.

    "Just like the Indonesian government has taken [legal actions] against [illegal] manning agencies in Indonesia," Retno said.

    In addition to the suspected slavery aboard four Chinese ships that involved 46 Indonesian ship crews as victims and killing four Indonesian ship crews, the Indonesian Foreign Ministry again recorded the deaths of four Indonesia ship crews working aboard Chinese ships.

    A ship crew whose name initial is D died aboard the Han Rong 363 while three Indonesian ship crews AS, R, and AW died aboard the Han Rong 368. The deaths were recorded from May to June 2020.

    Following the incident, the Indonesian Foreign Minister and Indonesian representatives in Colombo, Singapore, Beijing, and Guangzhou have informed the shipowners and other related parties to deliver the bodies to Indonesia.

    Despite the ongoing efforts, the Indonesian Foreign Ministry received news that the bodies have been buried at sea by the ships' captain on July 2020.

    "We are terribly sorry for the decision of the burial, although the practice of burial at sea is possible in the maritime world, but burial at sea should be the last resort when all options to return the body cannot be done," said Director for Protection of Indonesian Citizen and Indonesian Legal Entity of the Indonesian Foreign Affairs Ministry Judha Nugraha.

    In response to the most recent cases, the Foreign Ministry have summoned the Chinese Ambassador to Indonesia in Jakarta to express their concern and requested for an investigation into the causes of the deaths of the Indonesian ship crews.

    The Foreign Ministry in cooperation with respective instutions have also summoned manning agencies that oversee the ship crews to ensure the fulfillment of their employment rights including rights to a salary, deposit, insurance, and death allowance.

    The handling of the case have also been handed over to the Crime Investigation Agency of the Indonesian National Police to held parties liable for the incident responsible. The Foreign Ministry also stated its readiness to facilitate any investigation process with the Chinese authority through mutual legal assistance mechanism.

    "We also urged for an upstream restructuring concerning Indonesian ship crew placement to provide better protection for our ship crews who worked onboard various fishing ships," Judha said.