Myanmar lawmaker seeks investigation of raft-fishing business

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Myanmar lawmaker seeks investigation of raft-fishing business

A Pyithu Hluttaw (Lower House) legislator has sought an investigation of the alleged human rights violations in the raft-fishing business in Pyapon district of Ayeyarwady Region.

U Zaw Min Thein, MP for Laymyethnar township, urged the Committee for Citizen’s Fundamental Rights to lead the probe.

“I urge the committee to take steps to make the raft-fishing industry more sustainable and safer and to protect the basic rights of workers,” he said.

He said the Lower House committee needs to find a way to rein in the activities of informal and illegal brokers so that fishing workers can be protected by employment contracts.

“Raft-fishing owners must hire workers only if they have health certificates, and ID cards (proof of marine workers),” U Zaw Min Thein said. “They should only deal with official job brokers under contract.”

Former workers on raft-fishing boats claimed that they were forced to work without rest and despite other human rights violations.

They said the industry breaks the law on human trafficking and forced labour.

U Khin Maung Myint, a member of the hluttaw committee, said it will look into U Zaw Min Thein’s request in cooperation with relevant agencies, including the Myanmar Human Rights Commission.

A local official in Pyapon said that more than 100 people in the area have been reported killed, injured, or missing in the business this year.

U Shwe Paw, administrator of Daw Nyein village tract in Pyapon, said that 37 of the 201 people who were reported missing in 2017 and 2018 were confirmed dead.

Ko Myat Thura Tun, a student at Dagon University, was recently reported to have been trafficked and forced to work on a floating fishing raft before being rescued by his family.

U Than Chaung, chair of the Raft Fishing Entrepreneurs Association, told a recent news briefing that fishing boat owners recruit people from across the country because there are not enough local workers.

He admitted that many owners just accept workers brought by illegal job brokers without interviewing them or checking their backgrounds.

He added that some workers give false names and addresses, and that some were on the run from the law, military deserters, runaways, or mentally ill.

“Eighty percent of the workers here have no contact with their families,” he said. “All came here by their own decision.”

He said the association would try to hold its members accountable if they are found to have hired trafficked people.

From: Myanmar Times