The Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency said they seized these two Vietnamese boats after an incident that left a crew member dead on Aug. 17, 2020. — Photo from the Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency
HÀ NỘI — Việt Nam on Thursday asked Malaysia to ensure humane treatment for detained Vietnamese fishermen, following reports than one fisherman died at the hands of Malaysian law enforcement on August 16.
Lê Thị Thu Hằng, a spokesperson for the Việt Nam Ministry of Foreign Affairs, made the remarks during a press briefing in Hà Nội, informing the press that two fishing vessels along with 18 fishermen were detained in the incident.
The Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency said its coast guard shot a Vietnamese sailor dead after a confrontation over alleged encroachment in Malaysian waters in the South China Sea (known in Việt Nam as the East Sea).
The foreign ministry has exchanged diplomatic note with the Malaysian embassy in Việt Nam expressing its concerns on August 18.
“The Vietnamese Consular Department has asked Malaysian authorities to investigate and clarify the case, levy strict punishment on the public service personnel who caused the death of the Vietnamese fisherman, and to make sure not to repeat this action in the future,” Hằng said.
Việt Nam asks Malaysia to ensure humane treatment for the fishermen on the two seized boats, handle issues related to Vietnamese fishermen and fishing vessels in the spirit of humaneness, friendship and international law, especially given the two countries’ strategic partnership and both being members of the ASEAN Community, Hằng said.
The Vietnamese foreign ministry has instructed the Vietnamese embassy in Malaysia to work with the Malaysian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and requested Malaysian authorities provide detailed information regarding the incident and facilitate Vietnamese consular visits to the detained citizens, to see about their conditions and seek their side of the story, including circumstances surrounding the death, the Vietnamese foreign ministry’s spokesperson said.
The foreign ministry will inform the press once the visits are allowed, she added.
Also during the meeting, the foreign ministry was asked to provide updates on three fishing vessels in the south-central province of Khánh Hoà seized by Indonesia on the morning of August 10, while they were operating within Vietnamese waters, according to Khánh Hoà's fisheries department.
Hằng said after being notified of the incident, the foreign ministry has made contact with local authorities and asked Indonesian authorities to inform the Vietnamese side about the incidents.
Three fishing vessels with 26 Vietnamese fishermen on board were brought back to a facility under Indonesia’s Directorate General of Marine and Fisheries Resources Surveillance.
The fishermen were detained by Indonesia to be investigated for alleged charges of illegal fishing and using banned fishing tools, Hằng said.
The Vietnamese foreign ministry is requesting domestic authorities to expedite verification and identification of the detained fishermen so citizen protection measures can be implemented.
Responding to queries over updates regarding the 226 Vietnamese workers stranded in Uzbekistan after their work was suspended due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the foreign ministry representative said Vietnamese authorities, the Vietnamese embassy in Russia and Uzbekistan are working with their local counterparts.
“They are working on a plan to repatriate the Vietnamese citizens in Uzbekistan home as soon as possible in line with their aspirations, taking into account COVID-19 developments and the quarantine capacity in Việt Nam,” Hằng replied. — VNS