Court ruling on Benjina trafficking case to be made in Feb 2016
A COURT ruling on the Benjina trafficking case involving Myanmar enslaved fishermen will be made in February 2016, according to the fishermen who arrived back to Yangon yesterday after acting as witnesses at a trial against a fishing company accused of committing human trafficking crimes.
“The situation at the court is favourable, we believe we will receive compensation. The judge also told us that our case is now famous in Indonesia and he will consult with lawyers from the United Nations and the embassies concerned,” said Tun Win Naing, one of the 13 fishermen who gave evidence as a witness at the Indonesian court, to the Global New Light of Myanmar.
Prosecutors from the Indonesian Witness and Victim Protection Agency (LPSK) have also pushed to allow victims to claim unpaid salaries and other compensations, said Police Col Khin Maung Hla of the Anti-Human Trafficking Unit. LPSK took the Silver Sean fishing company in Indonesia to court for trafficking Myanmar fishermen in an attempt to claim lost wages and financial compensation for the victims.
LPSK met with 22 returned slave fishermen in Myanmar during its visit in September, reaching an agreement with the Myanmar authorities to send 14 fishermen who are related to the case to Indonesia, said Police Col Khin Maung Hla.
More than 500 fishermen who arrived back from Benjina about six to seven months ago did not receive salaries from their employers because Myanmar and Indonesian authorities had to give priority to repatriating them as soon as possible due to accommodation and food problems, according to the police source.
“However, the two countries will cooperate further to resolve the issue of unpaid salaries and to address the grievances of the remaining Myanmar fishermen,” Police Col Khin Maung Hla said.
He added that 176 out of more than 300 Myanmar fishermen stranded on Indonesia’s Ambon Island returned to Myanmar in September where they received their due salaries from the companies as they were repatriated only after the issues between the employers and workers was resolved by Myanmar and Indonesian authorities.
During its visit to Myanmar, the LPSK expressed its readiness to cooperate with Myanmar to resolve the human trafficking case in Benjina, Aru Island and Maluku Province, promising the safety of witnesses during the trial.