PNG: Suspected Human Traffickers Detained in Daru

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Fishing vessel had 8 individuals believed to be enslaved

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (PNG Post-Courier, August 3, 2015) – A foreign vessel, suspected to be involved in illegal human trafficking and slavery, has been detained in Daru, Western Province.

Prime Minister Peter O’Neill has confirmed that a foreign fishing vessel has been detained in Papua New Guinea waters carrying eight people who are believed to be the victims of forced human trafficking.

PM O’Neill has expressed disgust that human trafficking is taking place in the Asia-Pacific region and has committed PNG’s support to develop regional solutions to put an end to this exploitation.

"The Government was alerted by our partners of the possibility that vessels were in PNG waters with forced labor on board," the Prime Minister said.

"We mobilised assets of PNG security agencies to conduct a search, which located the fishing boat, the Blissful Reefer.

"This boat was boarded by our Defence personnel on Monday morning, July 27.

"Our personnel rescued eight people who had been enslaved on the vessel, and held the remaining 19 crew for questioning.

"The people rescued from the vessel are of Cambodian and Myanmar nationality and are now being accommodated in a safe location until arrangements can be made for them to return to their homes.

"The Blissful Reefer, its 19 crew, including the captain, are being brought to Port Moresby for further processing. There are other vessels of interest in the area and we are following lines of inquiry into their activities."

The Prime Minister has expressed his concern at the operation of human traffickers that appear to be expanding their activities.

"The forced trafficking of humans, slaves by any other description, is one of the most disgusting practices in the world today.

"The challenge for the region is not to only arrest the captain and crew of such vessels, but to find the organisers of this disturbing trade, he said

"PNG will engage our regional partners with a view to establishing a more formal network to track and detain vessel with slaves on board.

"The people who deal in human trafficking must be stopped.

"PNG will play its part to prevent the deplorable activity of human trafficking be these criminals who take asylum seekers to their deaths in the Indian Ocean, or the criminals involved.’’

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