DMW says 35 Filipino fishers became victims of forced labor in Namibia
MANILA, Philippines — Thirty-five Filipino fishers have fallen victim to alleged forced labor trafficking to Namibia in Africa, the Department of Migrant Workers (DMW) reported Tuesday.
Citing the affidavits of 26 repatriated fishers, the DMW said they were initially informed that they would work in Taiwan but ended up fishing in Namibia.
The fishers were deprived of sleep and food and were forced to work for 36 consecutive hours, the DMW noted.
“Based on the testimonies that we gathered, the fishermen were sometimes made to work for 36 hours straight with only two meals a day and an average of 4 hours of sleep. Their identity papers, including passports and seamen’s books, were kept away from the workers, which is a blatant violation of the rights of these seafarers,” DMW Secretary Susan Ople said in a statement.
Trioceanic Manning & Shipping, Inc. and Diamond H Marine Services & Shipping Agency were tagged in the forced labor trafficking case, the DMW said, adding that the two recruitment agencies have met with DMW and were able to provide the back wages of the fishermen.
The DMW also said Trioceanic Manning & Shipping, Inc. and Diamond H Marine Services & Shipping Agency should be further investigated.
“Any financial settlement between the manning agencies and the fishermen does not prevent the State from looking into the criminal aspects of cases involving the exploitation of migrant workers. In the cases of Filipino fishermen deployed to Namibia, we believe there are enough grounds to investigate the manning agencies for forced labor trafficking,” Ople said.
The DMW is likewise looking into Shang Chi Enterprise Ltd, One Marine Services, Inc., and Arrow Marine PTE, Ltd., which are described by the agency as “principals involved in the case.”
“They are facing permanent disqualification from the hiring of Filipino fishermen,” the DMW chief said.
The DMW sought the assistance of the Department of Justice and the Inter-Agency Council Against Trafficking in the filing of labor trafficking charges and other cases against the involved local and foreign manning agencies.
According to an article published by the Africa Defense forum on October 11, 2022, 60 people were rescued from two industrial fishing vessels — MV Shang Fu and Nata 2 — in Waivis Bay, Namibia in September.
Most of the rescued individuals were from the Philippines while others were from Angola, Indonesia, Namibia, Mozambique, and Vietnam.
The Filipinos who became victims of forced labor were then transported to a shelter as their employers were being investigated for human trafficking and violations of Namibia’s Labor Act, Immigration Control Act, and Marine Resources Act.
“We cannot turn a blind eye on another country’s quest for justice and our own laws against human trafficking because to do so may encourage similar abuses in the future,” Ople said.