PNG seizes boat carrying ‘slaves’


SYDNEY: Papua New Guinea Prime Minister Peter O’Neill Sunday pledged his nation’s support in tackling human trafficking as he confirmed the seizure of a boat carrying alleged slaves from Cambodia and Myanmar.

O’Neill said the eight people were rescued from the fishing boat “Blissful Reefer” after it was boarded on July 27 off the southern port of Daru in PNG waters.

Officials were questioning the 19 crew, including the captain, in the capital Port Moresby while the eight were being kept in a safe location before their return home, the PNG leader said in a statement.

“There are other vessels of interest in the area and we are following lines of inquiry into their activities,” O’Neill added.

The boat seizure came as the United States released its annual ranking of human trafficking, with Cambodia and Myanmar’s neighbor Thailand near the bottom of the list.

O’Neill said PNG would work with its regional partners to develop a more formal network tracking and detaining boats carrying trafficked people.



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