Saturday, July 04, 2020
Hawai'i Free Press

Current Articles | Archives

Thursday, January 04, 2018
Fishermen Settle Labor-Trafficking Case
By Selected News Articles @ 4:35 PM :: 2782 Views :: Labor, Small Business

Indonesian Fishermen Settle Labor-Trafficking Case

by Helen Christophi, Court House News, January 3, 2018

SAN FRANCISCO – Two Indonesian fishermen settled their lawsuit Wednesday against an American fishing boat captain whom they say enslaved them on his boat for eight months before they escaped in San Francisco.

Under the settlement, the owner and captain of the Sea Queen II, Thoai Van Nguyen, must give fishermen flyers enumerating their rights under U.S. law and employment contracts in their own languages. The plaintiffs were also awarded a confidential settlement award, according to a statement by their attorneys.

“This settlement should be a wake-up call to the commercial fishing industry,” Agnieszka Fryszman, an attorney at Cohen Milstein Sellers & Toll who represented the plaintiffs, said in a statement. “There’s simply no excuse for turning a blind eye to human trafficking, and we look forward to continuing our efforts to hold others in the industry accountable.”

Sorihin, who uses one name, is one of two Indonesian fisherman who escaped slavery aboard a U.S.-flagged tuna and swordfish vessel when it docked at San Francisco’s Fisherman’s Wharf. In this Sept. 22, 2016, photo, he is pictured at the offices of the Legal Aid Society in San Francisco, looking out toward Montgomery Street. (AP Photo/Eric Risberg, File)

Sorihin, who uses only one name, and Abdul Fatah sued Nguyen in San Francisco federal court in September 2016, claiming they were promised good jobs in the American commercial fishing industry. Instead, the men said, they were taken to sea from Jakarta, Indonesia, in an American vessel and transferred against their will to the Sea Queen II in the middle of the Pacific Ocean.

Onboard the Sea Queen, Nguyen confiscated the men’s passports, forced them to work 20 hours a day in the waters around Hawaii and California for less than they were promised, abused and humiliated them, denied them medical care for injuries sustained on the job and demanded thousands of dollars if they wanted to leave the ship before their two-year contracts expired, the men said.

They fled the boat after eight months while the Sea Queen was docked in San Francisco, grabbing their confiscated passports and sneaking away after Nguyen left to visit his home in nearby San Jose, according to the lawsuit.

“No one should have to go through what I went through,” Sorihin said in a statement Wednesday. “That is why I had to bring this case. I feel more at peace now.”

Under the settlement, Nguyen must guarantee his fishermen access to their passports, medical care for their injuries, minimum rest hours, free protective clothing and the right to end their contract early without a penalty. Nguyen has agreed to use only reputable labor brokers, and to provide his men with contact information for help lines and legal assistance for those whose rights are violated.

“The basic protections secured in this agreement lays the groundwork for minimum labor standards in the commercial fishing industry,” Carole Vigne, an attorney at Legal Aid at Work who also represented the plaintiffs, said in a statement. “We hope it becomes a model for all captains who want to do right by their immigrant crew.”

Sorihin, a foreign fisherman who was granted a U.S. visa as a victim of human trafficking in San Francisco, is pictured in this April 25, 2016, photo showing a finger he injured while fishing aboard a U.S.-flagged fishing boat in the Pacific. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu, File)

Sorihin and Fatah sued for unspecified damages for fees they paid and wages they were promised, mental anguish, pain and suffering, and the loss of educational and business opportunities. The case was the first brought under the U.S. Trafficking Victim’s Protection Act, according to their lawyers.

The International Organization for Migration, a Geneva, Switzerland-based organization that works with governments and migrants on migration issues, says labor trafficking has become entrenched in Indonesia’s fishing industry. In 2015, hundreds of fishers trafficked from abroad to work in Indonesia were rescued from unregulated fishing vessels around Indonesia’s Benjina and Ambon islands, according to the organization.

Parties including the U.S. Department of State have also accused Thai fishing vessels of enslaving fishermen.

Lynn Krieger of Lewis Brisbois Bisgaard & Smith represented Nguyen.

Links

TEXT "follow HawaiiFreePress" to 40404

Register to Vote

2aHawaii

808 Silent Majority

808 State Update AM940

ABCDEFG Blog

ACA Signups Hawaii

ACCE

ALEC

Alliance Defending Freedom

Aloha Life Advocates

Aloha Pregnancy Care Center

American Council of Trustees and Alumni

American Mothers of Hawaii

AMVETS-Hawaii

AntiPlanner

Antonio Gramsci Reading List

A Place for Women in Waipio

Astronomy Hawaii

Audit The Rail

Ballotpedia Hawaii

Better Hawaii 

Blaisdell Memorial Project

Broken Trust 

Build More Hawaiian Homes Working Group

CAFR Hawaii

Castaway Conservative

Children's Alliance Hawaii

Children's Rights Institute

ChinaTownWatch.com

Christian Homeschoolers of Hawaii

Citizens for Recall

Cliff Slater's Second Opinion

Coffee Break

CSIS Pacific Forum

DAR Hawaii

DeedySupport.com

DVids Hawaii

E Hana Kakou Kelii Akina

E Māua Ola i Moku o Keawe

Farmers For Choice Hawaii

FIRE

Fix Oahu!

Follow the Money Hawaii

Frank in Hawaii

Front Page Magazine

Frontline: The Fixers

Genetic Literacy Project

Get Off Your Butts!

God, Freedom, America

Grassroot Institute

Habele.org

Hawaii Aganst Assisted Suicide

Hawaii Aquarium Fish Report

Hawaii Aviation Preservation Society

Hawaii Catholic TV

Hawaii Christian Coalition

Hawaii Cigar Association

Hawaii Coalition Against Legalized Gambling

Hawaii ConCon Info

Hawaii Credit Union Watch

Hawaii Crime Victims' Rights

Hawaii Crop Improvement Association

Hawaii Debt Clock

Hawaii Defending Marriage

Hawaii Defense Foundation

Hawaii Family Advocates

Hawaii Family Forum

Hawaii Farmers and Ranchers United

Hawaii Farmer's Daughter

Hawaii Federalist Society

Hawaii Federation of Republican Women

Hawaii Firearm Community

Hawaii Fishermen's Alliance

Hawaii Future Project

Hawaii Gathering of Eagles

Hawaii History Blog

Hawaii Homeschool Association

Hawaii Jihadi Trial

Hawaii March for Life

Hawaii Meth Project

Hawaii's Partnership for Appropriate & Compassionate Care

Hawaii Public Charter School Network

Hawaii Rifle Association

Hawaii Right to Life -- Big Island

Hawaii Right to Life -- Oahu

Hawaii Shield Law Coalition

Hawaii Shippers Council

Hawaii Smokers Alliance

Hawaii State Data Lab

Hawaii Together

Heritage Foundation

HI Coalition Against Legalized Gambling

HIEC.Coop 

HiFiCo

Hiram Fong Papers

Homeschool Legal Defense Hawaii

Honolulu Homeless Crisis

Honolulu Navy League

Honolulu Traffic

Horns of Jericho Blog

House Minority Blog

House Republican Caucus YouTube

HPACC

Hump Day Report

I Vote Hawaii

If Hawaii News

Imua TMT

Inouye-Kwock, NYT 1992

Inside the Nature Conservancy

Inverse Condemnation

Investigative Project on Terrorism

Iowa Meets Maui

Jackson v Abercrombie

Jihad Watch

July 4 in Hawaii

Kahle v New Hope

Kakaako Cares

Kau TEA Party

Kauai Co GOP

Keep Hawaii's Heroes

KeyWiki

Land and Power in Hawaii

Legislative Committee Analysis Tool

Lessons in Firearm Education

Lingle Years

Malulani Foundation

Managed Care Matters -- Hawaii

Malama Pregnancy Center of Maui

Mauna Kea Recreational Users Group

MentalIllnessPolicy.org

Middle East Forum--The Legal Project

Mililani Conservatives for Change

Military Home Educators' Network Oahu

Missile Defense Advocacy

MIS Veterans Hawaii

Muslim Brotherhood in America

NAMI Hawaii

NARTH

Natatorium.org

National Christian Foundation Hawaii

National Parents Org Hawaii

National Wind Watch

New Hawaiian

New Zeal

NFIB Hawaii News

No GMO Means No Aloha

Northwest Economic Policy Seminar

Not Dead Yet, Hawaii

Now What I Really Think

NRA-ILA Hawaii

Oahu Alternative Transport

ObamaCare Abortion Hawaii

Obookiah

OHA Lies

Opt Out Today

OurFutureHawaii.com

Pacific Aviation Museum

Patients Rights Council Hawaii

PEACE Hawaii

People vs Machine

Pritchett Cartoons 

Pro-GMO Hawaii

P.U.E.O.

RailRipoff.com

Rental by Owner Awareness Assn

Republican Party -- Hawaii State

Research Institute for Hawaii USA

Rick Hamada Show

RJ Rummel

Robotics Organizing Committee

Save Dillingham Airfield

School Choice in Hawaii

SenatorFong.com

SIFE Remington

SIFE W. Oahu 

Sink the Jones Act

Smart About Marijuana--Hawaii

St Marianne Cope

State Budget Solutions Hawaii

State Policy Network

Statehood for Guam

Tax Foundation of Hawaii

The Harriet Tubman Agenda

The Long War Journal

The Real Hanabusa

Time Out Honolulu

Trustee Akina KWO Columns

Truth About Trade & Technology - Hawaii

UCC Truths

Union Members Know Your Rights

US Tax Foundation Hawaii Info

Valor in the Pacific

VAREP Honolulu

Waagey.org

West Maui Taxpayers Association

What Natalie Thinks

Whole Life Hawaii

Yes2TMT