TEMPO.CO, Jakarta - Thousands of Indonesian sailors have fallen victims to the practice of human trafficking and slavery on Taiwanese vessels. The sailors generally work on fishing vessels operating in the open seas.
An investigation done by Tempo magazine and the Reporter, a Taiwanese independent media, found that most of the sailors do not have legal documents. They usually do not have working visas either, use forged seaman books, and are sent by agents that do not have permits from the Transportation Ministry.
To make matters worse, the sailors are also not registered as migrant workers both in Indonesia or Taiwan.
Consequently, protection to the sailors is weak.
In Taiwan, vessel crews from Indonesia are also not protected by the labor law in the country.
We investigated the chain of the sending of the sailors from Indonesia to Taiwan. We also interviewed dozens of sailors and ex-sailors, sponsors or brokers who recruit them, as well as agents spread in Jakarta, Tegal, Pemalang, and Cilacap.
And to get a bigger picture, we sent Mustafa Silalahi, the editor of Tempo’s Investigation Desk, to Taiwan.
Mustafa met with Indonesian sailors in Taipei, Keelung, and Kaohsiung. He also met with a Taiwanese agent who channels Indonesian sailors to fishing vessels owned by Taiwanese citizens.
Their stories reveal the pattern of recruitment of the crews, how they were given forged documents and an unfair contract, and how they also had to suffer from bad treatments aboard the vessels.
Their ordeal, however, did not stop there because shortly after they disembarked the vessels, some of them also did not receive salaries as promised.
Read the complete story on this week’s edition of Tempo magazine with the main story entitled "Budak Indonesia di Kapal Taiwan" and the English version entitled ‘Slavery at Sea’.