Fijian Women Speak Out on Fishermen's Deaths

Credit: Human Rights at Sea
Credit: Human Rights at Sea

Published Jul 27, 2019 10:46 PM by The Maritime Executive

In partnership with Fijian-based NGO, Pacific Dialogue, Human Rights at Sea has published a fifth case study exposing the consequences for families of seafarers who have suffered and died as a result of human and labor rights abuses on board Fijian-crewed fishing vessels.

The women are speaking out about Fijian crewmen who died on longline fishing vessels operating out of Fiji.

In one case, Joeli Nailati was stabbed by a Chinese crewman. His wife Meredani Kali says she found out about her husband's death when she went to get her portion of his monthly wage from the company. He was paid F$500 ($232) for three months' work, and after deductions, Kali would receive F$300 ($139). “They told me (incorrectly) that he had died the day before. His body was in a plastic bag, and it was black.” Nailati, a father of four, died at age 33.

According to Kali, the company gave her F$2,000 ($927) for funeral expenses. Her life since then has been a struggle, although she has secured work as a housekeeper. A year after his death, the Fijian Department of Labour paid Kali F$24,000 ($11,000) in compensation.

While the Chinese man was convicted of murder and is still serving his sentence, details of the trial were never conveyed to Kali until Pacific Dialogue located newspaper reports and secured a copy of the judgment and sentence and gave them to her. The charity says: “It was very emotional for her, but their receipt has empowered her, because just recently she has approached a local bank to access Joeli's frozen bank account to enable her to pay for their youngest's school needs, and she plans to seek legal advice to secure the remainder of Joeli's salary.” 

The testimony is available here.