Honorable Chairs, fellow delegates, and members of the United Nations,
The delegate of Australia strongly agrees to the Agenda of resolving
slavery and labor abuse in the fishing sector.
At the international standard, the international community has agreed
to combat slavery and forced labor. These international instruments include
notably core ILO conventions and include other relevant international human
rights treaties such as Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948), UN
Supplementary Convention on the Abolition of Slavery and International
Convention on Civil and Political Rights in 1966.Also in relation to the
growing concern on the labor exploitation and modern slavery, human trafficking
has surfaced as well. To counter human trafficking, a new instrument was
adopted in 2002, which is referred to as the protocol to prevent, suppress and
punish trafficking in persons, especially children and women.
Together with the growing
global supply chains, Southeast Asia has grown into the destination of forced
labor and slavery especially in the fishery industry. Although there has been
some attempts to abolish such practices like EU’s waring to ban all fishery exports
from Southeast Asia, civil society organizations still report continuous
violation of labor exploitation and sea slavery in particular amongst women and
Australia has been a strong
opponent of all slavery practices and labor exploitations in all forms.
Entering into force of the Trafficking Protocol in 2003, Australia led its
practice at domestic level with domestic legislations to criminalize slave-like
offences with its criminal code, Crimes Legislation Amendment, Common wealth
Criminal Code Act in 1995.
The Australian government
recommends mainly three actions as the following: implementation of business
and human rights principle, monitoring and assessing investigation methods and
process and education on migration policies as well as migrants rights at
workplace. Following the “UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights”
and the special report on Southeast on Southeast Asian fishery market and in
order to protect the rights of the workers, the international community should
investigate and provide case studies to review the circumstances and provide
recommendation to private sectors especially multinational corporations.
Considering the complementary element of non-legally binding
instruments in raising awareness the UN Global Compact will be another
competent platform to bring together different stakeholders such as business,
NGOs, academia, labor union for the implementation of the UN Global Initiative
to Fight Human Trafficking(UNGIFT).
To fully reflect the international standards in domestic penal codes,
there needs to be monitoring of investigation process and actual criminal
offence cases to review the implementation. Educating relevant government
authorities in migration offices of migrant workers that human rights can prevent
human trafficking in fishery industry in particular of most vulnerable groups
like women and children.
The Government of Australia seeks for fruitful discussion on this
matter in the upcoming conference with other delegates.