ECOTERRA reports sources in Kenya Wednesday indicate that one of the 3 Kenyan crew of FV TAWARIQ-4 died under mysterious circumstances in a Tanzanian prison.
The Taiwanese fishing vessel FV TAWARIQ-4 was captured last year for fishing illegally in Tanzanian waters.
The crew of the vessel was composed of 15 Chinese, 5 Vietnamese, 2 Taiwanese, 8 Filipino, 5 Indonesian and 3 Kenyan seafarers. All the crew were held in Tanzania prisons.
Andrew Mwangura, East Africa head of the Seafarers Assistance Programme (SAP) visited them in June last year and together with ECOTERRA International, appealed for the release of the crew, while holding the master and vessel until the case was decided before a court of law.
The Dar-es-salaam port chaplain also visited the crew. He provided some material support and also some medications, since the prison situation is not that good.
ECOTERRA says the seamen feel that that none of their embassies are following their case and they do not know when they will be released from the prison. At present they need clothing and the missions to seafarers is preparing to buy some for them this week.
“On my own behalf and on behalf of the relatives of the deceased Kenyan seaman we are asking for Kenyan and Tanzanian government’s assistance in bringing back the remains of the deceased sailor. We do also ask for an investigation on the cause of death,” Andrew Mwangura said, in Mombasa today.
It seems the seamen, who are being kept in two separate prisons, are powerless victims of a jurisdictional confusion and their families are very concerned about their situation in the prisons.
While the crew have appeared in front of a Tanzanian Court three times, a judgement is yet to be made and no serious lawyer is pushing the case. ECOTERRA says a Tanzanian lawyer has allegedly been paid to represent the crew, but he is not following up on the case.
The East African Seafarers Programme and ECOTERRA International have again appealed to the governments of Tanzania and Taiwan to locate the owner of this vessel and hold him as well as the master of the fish-poaching vessel responsible, and immediately release the crew of poor seafarers, to avert further death in prison.
ECOTERRA considers that the simple crew members have committed no crime; the crime was committed by the Taiwanese fishing company.
ECOTERRA International is the Global Society for ECOlogy and sound ECOnomy, an independent, international civil society organisation, registered as a non-governmental organisation (NGO), working as humanitarian agency and in development.