PNG rescues forced labourers

8:58 am on 3 August 2015

Authorities in Papua New Guinea have rescued at least eight fishermen kept in slave-like conditions on a Thai-owned refrigerator ship.

The Blissful Reefer has been impounded in Daru, after authorities were tipped off by a report that included satellite photos and other intelligence.

The chief of mission for the International Organisation for Migration in PNG, George Gigauri, says the men were part of a larger group of forced labourers to be distributed to various fishing boats.

He says that nearly 20 other crew members from the Blissful Reefer are still to be questioned, who could also be victims of human trafficking.

"I can't talk about the specific group of people yet, because the operation and investigation is ongoing. But I can tell you about the larger group to which we suspect they're connected and that profile is basically an enslaved fisherman who's forced to work, not let out on land, and not paid, and abused. Predominantly from Myanmar and Cambodia."

George Gigauri says the ship appears to be connected to a wider trafficking ring, with PNG authorities still looking for other ships in its waters.