Video of massacre at sea being investigated - at least 4 killed

An unverified video of a shooting massacre at sea is currently being investigated. The 10-minute video shows the systematic killing of at least four individuals clinging to a makeshift raft/debris. Unfortunately, the incident is a snap shot of the illegal activities that occur on the high seas.
Video of massacre at sea being investigated - at least 4 killed

The Fijian authorities have requested the assistant of Interpol and neighbouring police authorities to investigate the gruesome 10 minute YouTube video titled ‘Fishing vessel fijian crew gettin shot, out side fiji waters’.

The graphic footage shows three vessels, one a Taiwanese tuna fishing boat (ID number BI-2353), sailing around a smaller vessel. The footage then shows men clinging to makeshift raft/debris under repeated fire. The men bleed heavily into the water and eventually end up floating motionless in the water. Footage of the crew taking selfies on their mobile phones follows. No images of the gunman are included in the footage, though laughter can be heard in the background.

Interpreters for Television New Zealand identified Taiwanese, Thai and Vietnamese voices on the video that shows the slayings.

One man says, "If you see anyone, just kill. Look ahead there: one and two."

“At this stage it is too early to make any definite statement about the matter,” Fiji Police Force spokesman Atu Sokomuri told media source SBS: “There is no clear evidence to identify the victims as Fijian citizens, nor is there a clear indication of where or when this gruesome incident took place.

“Therefore the Fiji Police Force is seeking the assistance of Interpol and neighbouring police forces to help firmly establish the facts of this case.”

SBS reports that “the vessel BI-2353 is registered to the Tching Ye Fishery in Taiwan and its home port is Kaohsiung. The company’s phone number does not answer.

Records on the boat indicate it operates in the West Pacific and Indian oceans. The YouTube account that uploaded the footage has not responded to messages requesting further details about the footage.”

New Update: Some reports have been emerging to suggest that the footage is of a failed piracy attempt off Somalia against Taiwanese fishing boats, rather than off Fijian waters as the title of the video suggests.

‘Unarmed and Effectively in Distress at Sea’

It is clear that the footage contains actions that violate international maritime and human rights law. As reported by the Human Rights at Sea Initiative (HRAS):

Whatever the location and background, the full footage clearly shows extra-judicial killings at sea, a failure to render assistance at sea and the killing of wounded seafarers; aside from any speculation that these were suspected pirates.

From the available, unverified footage posted online, those seafarers are killed by what appears to be small arms fire, yet they pose no imminent threat to the life or lives of those onboard the trawler. They are unarmed and effectively in distress at sea.

The lethal response that is shown is not a lawful, necessary or a reasonable use of force and it is certainly not proportional to any threat posed. The crew of the trawler cannot be said to be acting in self-defence in anyway whatsoever.

IMPA ACT stands alongside organisations such as HRAS in condemns the illegal and unlawful activity on the high seas.

Full video: Warning! The video of the shooting incident contains graphic content

Further resources

  • HRAS Founder comments on footage of murder of seafarers in international waters – TVNZ One News, 19 August 2014.
  • The 100 Series Rules™ are a model set and example of best practice for maritime Rules on the Use of Force (RUF). They complement current industry RUF guidance on the drafting of RUF, as well as supporting the requirements of ISO PAS 28007 as a Publicly Available Specification and international standard. 

Not sure where to start?

IMPA ACT assists the shipping and marine industries identify actual and potential impacts on human rights, including the right to life. Find out more

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Video of massacre at sea being investigated - at least 4 killed

by Tatiana Stotz

Programme Manager IMPA ACT

Tatiana Stotz is a CSR expert and programme manager for the IMPA ACT. With significant experience in the fields of human rights, CSR and law, and having held a number of roles in Australia, Asia and Europe, she joined IMPA from GLOBAL CSR, the Danish consultancy that helped to develop the IMPA ACT Initiative.

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