Vietnamese Fishermen Front Solomon Islands Court For Failing To Pay Fines

Chief Magistrate says those that pay can return to home country

By Teddy Kafo

HONIARA, Solomon Islands (Solomon Star, May 1, 2017) – The forty Vietnamese being detained at Rove Police Club for stealing our marine resources will appear in court today since they failed to pay their fine and the lapsing of their extended detention order.

The illegal fishermen (captains excluded) were ordered by the magistrate court to pay a fine of USD$100 each (SBD$800), which totalled up to US $4,300 and equivalent to about $33, 454.

This was after they pleaded guilty to the charges against them under the Immigration Act, being one of unlawful non citizen.

 The ruling was made by Chief Magistrate John Numapo on the 19th of April.

This is pursuant to sections 28 (1) and 29 (1) read with 87 (1) of the Immigration Regulation of 2013, with a daily fine of prescribed amount of USD $20 per day for the days commencing from the date of their unlawful non-citizen in the Solomon Islands when they were sighted on the Indispensable reef near Rennell and Bellona province until the date of their arrest, on 26 March, 2017.

Those who have not paid their fines today will be brought back to the court to be dealt with.

Chief Magistrate Mr Numapo said those who pay the fines by then are free to return to their country.

Charges for the three captains of the blue boats are different since the seriousness of their offense will be dealt with by the High Court in their next appearance on the 4th May (Thursday).

But at this moment, the 40 Vietnam reef robbers (the crews) are still detained at Rove.

A well placed source yesterday said the Vietnamese are still waiting for help from their government to repatriate them.

“So far they are waiting for possible repatriation funded by the Vietnamese government.

“Four days on from now, they are expected to hope on a plane back to Hanoi International airport.

“But it all depends on how fast their government will help them with the airfare cost and related immigration requirement,” the source said.

The court also heard most of them are without any passport.

As understood, the Vietnamese were helped by Immigration officers to contact the Vietnamese Embassy in Australia.

Minister for Fisheries and Marine Resources, John Maneniaru informed the recent parliament sitting that it is obvious this Vietnamese have no money to pay for the fines of the offense committed, in order to set them free.

However, he said keeping them will be costly for the government, so consultation between the Attorney General (AG) office, Director of Public Prosecution (DPP), Ministry of fisheries and Customs is underway, to avoid the costs of feeding them.

Thus, Minister said deporting them as soon as possible could be the wise option to avoid costs.

Meanwhile, Maneniaru said that under the bio-security laws, it stated that such incident where foreign boats were caught and not released for unpaid demands is subjected to be destroyed.

“So I’m sorry for those that show interest to take ownership of these boats,” he added.

The director of Immigration office cannot be reached for comment.

Solomon Star
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