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Crew Escape From Tuna Long Liner, Claims Of Slavery Vietnam, September 4, 13

Four Vietnamese sailors jumped from a Taiwanese tuna longliner after claiming to be severely mistreated on board. They reported that they had been treated like slaves for more than seven months.

The sailors jumped from the ‘Hsieh Ta’ vessel, owned by Hong Yuan Fishery while it was towing a broken down ship and were rescued by a tugboat. The tuna longliner is listed under both the WCPFC and the IATTC.

Twenty-two year old, Tran Van Dung, who was working on the 472 ton vessel said: “The Taiwanese captain, the engineer and two other men repeatedly beat us for no reason with any object in their hands like a hammer or a wrench.”

The four sailors are just a small minority of thousands of Vietnamese workers sent abroad in an effort to promote Vietnam’s relationship with other countries.

Dung added: “The most painful time was when the captain and engineer beat and jumped on me until my nose bled and I lost consciousness. We had to suffer, fearing they would throw us into the sea.”

Longline vessels spend a very long time at sea between docking and Dung explained that they took their chance to escape from the ship while it was taking another boat to the shore to be repaired. The Overseas Labor Management Department said that it was investigating the case.

Four other sailors that jumped off a different Taiwanese vessel as it sailed through the Panama Canal have also reported of having to work in very harsh conditions.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs said: “Thousands of Vietnamese workers have arbitrarily terminated their employment contracts for the purpose of illegally staying in host countries and territories. This makes it difficult to organize, manage and provide these workers with legal protection overseas.”

It also highlighted that many migrant workers face insufficient attention from agencies. They are not provided with vocational and language training before they depart and they also tend to have little information about the culture of their destination country.

A National Assembly session earlier this year included discussions about the need for laws to be made so that there are binding requirements for human resource firms to carry out checks on the conditions of workers they send abroad.