Archive for June 2018

Thailand Ratifies Convention to Tackle Forced Labor   1 comment

Credit: EJF
Credit: EJF


Last week Thailand officially ratified the Protocol of 2014 to the Forced Labour Convention at the International Labour Organization summit in Geneva.

The ratification has been hailed as a crucial step forward, especially for the country’s fishing and seafood processing industries, which have in the past been notorious for labor rights violations and forced labor cases.

The Environmental Justice Foundation (EJF), which has worked to expose incidences of forced labor in the Thai fishing industry since 2013, strongly applauds the ratification, and the progress the country has made. However, the organization says that Thailand must also commit to three other conventions concerning working conditions in the fishing industry, the right to organize and collective bargaining, the NGO stresses.

The Royal Thai Government had previously stated publicly that alongside the Forced Labour Convention it would ratify the Work in Fishing Convention this month. This has now been delayed. The government has also pledged to ratify two other conventions on collective bargaining and the right to organize for both national and migrant workers.

By ratifying all three key conventions, and ensuring that they are effectively enforced, Thailand would send a credible and powerful message to the international community that the country is firmly committed to eliminating human trafficking, forced labor and other forms of exploitation from its fishing industry, says Steve Trent, EJF Executive Director.

In extensive recent investigations carried out by EJF, workers reported brutal physical abuse at the hands of their employers, brokers or other crewmembers if they did not work hard enough. They reported being forced to work for periods of 24 hours or more, often in return for little or no money.

“Our investigations have shown workers suffering atrocious working and living conditions or having their court cases thrown out for lack of valid evidence of forced labor,” says Trent. “Thailand has now driven a transformation of its fisheries, ushering in extensive, much needed and highly valuable reforms. But if it is to succeed in securing legal, sustainable and ethical fisheries, it must see the entire process through by committing to eradicate labor abuses and illegal practices at every turn.

“As the first country in Asia to ratify this ground-breaking convention, Thailand is setting out its intention to be a leader in the region, it must now consolidate this and bring in the full suite of reforms necessary.”

Posted June 12, 2018 by rrts in -NEWS

UN-Chartered Vessel Attacked off Yemen   1 comment

The VOS Theia carrying relief cargo (WFP Logistics Cluster)


On Sunday, an offshore supply vessel chartered by the U.N. World Food Programme was attacked off Hodeidah, Yemen, the latest in a series of reported rebel attacks on merchant shipping in the Red Sea.

A spokesperson for the World Food Programme (WFP) told Reuters that the VOS Theia had recently completed a delivery of 80 tons of food and 55 tons of medical supplies to Hodeidah, and she was waiting at an anchorage about 30 nm off the coast of Yemen. At 1730 hours, unidentified personnel in a skiff approached the Theia and opened fire. They attempted to take control of the ship, but onboard security personnel repelled them in an exchange of gunfire. “Both the crew and the vessel are safe, with no injuries or obvious damage to the vessel,” the WFP spokesperson said in a statement.

While the attackers were not identified, previous strikes on merchant shipping off Yemen have been attributed to Houthi rebels, who claimed responsibility for the attack on the Saudi tanker Abqaiq in April. EUNAVFOR intelligence and security chief Maj. Tom Mobbs suggested that a second attack on the Ince Inebolu was likely carried out by Houthis in a case of mistaken identity, and would likely not be the last of its kind. Houthi forces denied involvement in the strike on the Inebolu.

The attack on the Theia came as Saudi-backed forces close in on the Houthi-controlled port of Hodeidah. Coalition forces are now only eight miles away, and a final push to take the port could come soon. UN envoy Martin Griffiths is said to be negotiating with Houthi leaders to see if they will give up Hodeidah without a fight in order to avoid disrupting vital supply lines for the civilian population.

Hodeidah handles the majority of cargo arriving in western Yemen, including food. Due in part to a rigorous Saudi inspection process for import cargo, the UN says, food shipments have trickled through since late 2017, and over eight million Yemenis are presently at risk of starvation. If Hodeidah were to close altogether due to active combat, it could result in famine, aid groups warn.

Posted June 12, 2018 by rrts in -NEWS