AICHR discusses rights of migrant fishers in forum on human rights at sea


JAKARTA, 18 December 2023 – In commemoration of the International Day of Migrants, the ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights (AICHR) hosted the forum on human rights at sea on 14-15 December 2023 in Jakarta, Indonesia, in a hybrid setting.

The event, titled “ASEAN Forum on Human Rights at Sea: Ensuring Decent Work for Migrant Fishers,” is part of the AICHR Five-Year Work Plan 2021-2025, and was organised by AICHR Indonesia and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Indonesia, in partnership with Indonesia Ocean Justice Initiative, International Organisation for Migration and International Justice Mission.



During the opening session, Chair and Representative of Indonesia to AICHR Wahyuningrum highlighted that human rights protection should be applicable at sea as they do on land. She shared her concern on the fact that human rights abuses at sea are frequently not reported, or remedied, and migrant fishers remain vulnerable to exploitative and abusive labour practices, subject to harsh and dangerous working conditions, and forced labour due to the challenging nature of the maritime environment.

The forum, that was attended by more than 60 participants, aimed to provide a platform for dialogue among relevant actors on the protection of migrant fishers and formulate recommendations for the development of the Guidelines on the Implementation of the ASEAN Declaration on the Placement and Protection of Migrant Fishers, discussed the intersectional issues of human rights at sea at length, and heard inputs from migrant fishers and migrant families navigating the migration cycles.



Concluding their discussion, the forum proposed following recommendations to improve the protection of migrant fishers in ASEAN, which among others, to:

  • Review and revise the national and regional policies and regulations to uphold the principle of non-discrimination, gender-sensitive and responsive, recognise the vulnerability, and ensure right-based approaches, in line with international and ASEAN Standards.
  • Strengthen access to information, and education and improve participation, representation, and voices of victims, survivors, and migrant fishers
  • Improve evidence-based, data collection, promising practices, and sharing
  • To ensure the establishment of a grievance mechanism for migrant fishers in fishing vessels that are guided by principles of legitimate, accessible, predictable, equitable, transparent, rights compatible, enabling continuous learning, and based on engagement and dialogue.
  • Develop technical guidance on cross-border law enforcement, emphasizing international cooperation at bilateral, regional, and multilateral levels.
  • Provide victim assistance in fishing vessels that are coherent with international standards, including rescue, rehabilitation, restitution, and reintegration as well as a pool of trained interpreters to assist diverse victims and their families.
  • Build the capacity of law enforcement officers at the national and regional levels on the issue of human trafficking, forced labour, and violation at sea and how to handle the case using the right-based approaches.


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