Justice may be delayed, but it will never be absent.


Jaga, a 41-year-old with 9 years of experience working on deep-sea fishing vessels, found himself on the Taiwanese-funded "Da Wang No.4" as his fourth ship in April 2019. However, the atmosphere on this ship was drastically different from his previous experiences. The captain and first mate of "Da Wang No.4" were prone to physically assaulting and verbally abusing crew members for slow work or mistakes, using violence like hitting with sharp fish fat.

If clothes were hung outside the cabin to dry, they would be thrown into the sea by the captain and first mate, disregarding the crew's need for warmth. To maximize the exploitation of working hours, the captain restricted meal times, and failure to finish within the time limit resulted in wage deductions. In the isolated offshore environment, the captain and first mate utilized the fear arising from the inability to seek help and language barriers to enforce high-pressure violent management.

After two months at sea, an Indonesian crew member, Sunoto, was violently punched in the back of the head by the first mate and later died. This incident forced "Da Wang No.4" to temporarily dock in Fiji for a judicial investigation. Despite some Indonesian and Filipino crew members deciding to return home, Jaga believed that Fiji's justice system could reveal the truth and replace the violent captain and first mate. However, to his dismay, everything remained unchanged, and the ship sailed back to the open sea for fishing.

When "Da Wang No.4" arrived in Taiwan in 2020, Jaga suffered an asthma attack. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, he couldn't disembark and was forced to sleep on the deck. Eventually, he was confined to a room in a temporary office by a broker. His desperate plea for help brought the incident to light. With our intervention, Jaga was relocated to a shelter in the Philippines, and we assisted him in filing complaints with the immigration authorities. We also joined forces with other advocacy groups to demand justice and truth in the "Da Wang No.4" case.

Throughout the lengthy period awaiting judicial judgment, Jaga applied for victim identification under human trafficking, arranged for his stay and work permits, and relied solely on donations for support. Living in the shelter for over three years, Jaga granted interviews to over 30 media outlets and research institutions worldwide, hoping that his survival testimony would uncover the truth about the abuse on "Da Wang No.4." He repeatedly recounted the painful and terrifying memories onboard, aiming to prevent such tragedies from happening again.

While attempting to contact other Filipino crew members from "Da Wang No.4" for witness assistance, many had lost contact after moving to other fishing vessels, and some had returned to their home countries, unwilling to relive the traumatic memories. Fortunately, another former Indonesian crew member who re-entered Taiwan testified, confirming the long working hours and the process leading to the fatal beating of Sunoto, aligning with Jaga's account.

Jaga stated that the inability to bring the captain and first mate to justice after Sunoto's death in Fiji left him and other crew members feeling hopeless. However, he maintained faith that justice might be delayed but would not be absent. Thus, he chose to stay in Taiwan to cooperate with the investigation. Finally, in April 2022, the Kaohsiung District Prosecutor's Office indicted the captain, first mate, shipowner, and seven others from "Da Wang No.4" on charges of violating the Human Trafficking Prevention Act.

Currently, Jaga remains in our shelter, awaiting the verdict of the first trial. Despite the challenging and protracted period spent at the shelter, he considers it his home. After working with people of various nationalities on fishing vessels, he now enjoys a peaceful life, surrounded by fellow countrymen, sharing familiar dishes from his homeland. He hopes that the perpetrators of "Da Wang No.4" will face consequences, serving as a warning to prevent further incidents of abuse leading to death on fishing vessels.