"We cannot allow companies to recruit and treat workers in the marine and fisheries sector arbitrarily," Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Minister Susi Pudjiastuti stated at the International Conference on Human Rights Protection in the Fishing Industry here on Monday.
The minister said that cases of human rights violations, occurring in Benjina, had exposed the presence of modern-day slavery in the fisheries sector. The victims experienced harsh treatment and were living in poor conditions. Indonesian crews employed in various international vessels also faced similar conditions.
Meanwhile, Manpower Minister Hanif Dhakiri lauded the ranks of the Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Ministry, which had implemented the regulations on labor protection in the fisheries sector that are intended to ensure that the fishing industry complies with the human rights norms.
"It demonstrates the commitment of the Indonesian government to protect the human rights of all stakeholders in the maritime sector," the minister stated.
The minister remarked that all companies operating in the fishing industry had not complied with the international human rights principles.
"It becomes our challenge to solve the problems," Dhakiri stated.
In addition, Ambassador of Belgium to Indonesia Patrick Herman expressed pride on being able to contribute to the peace process, such as enforcing human rights aspects in the maritime and fisheries sector.
"Human rights are not a liability on paper but an important asset that can boost the competitiveness of the company," the ambassador affirmed.
Meanwhile, Chairman of the Foundation for Reporting International Human Rights Standard Marzuki Darusman praised the Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Ministrys efforts in issuing regulations on labor protection. The regulations made it mandatory for corporations to abide by the human rights certification if they want to operate in the waters of Indonesia.
The Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Ministry had earlier issued regulations necessitating fishing boats and cargo ships operating in Indonesia to comply with the human rights standards based on the principles of the United Nations, as a prerequisite to obtain permission to catch fish.
The ministry has issued Ministerial Regulation No. 35 of 2015 on System and Human Rights Certification in the Fishing Industry, Ministerial Regulation No. 42 of 2016 on Work Agreement for vessels crew, and Ministerial Regulation No. 2 of 2017 on Requirements and Mechanisms of Human Rights Certifications in the fishing industry.
These regulations are aimed at making it mandatory for the fishing industry to respect and protect human rights, including the crew of the fishing vessel and the surrounding community.
These regulations are expected to realize the equitable management of fisheries, to provide legal certainty, to offer benefits, and to support sustainable development.