21 May 2021
London. UK. Following the publication this week of the 12-month investigation into the circumstances surrounding the death of Kiribati fisheries observer, Eritara Aati Kaierua, at sea between 3-4 March 2020, Human Rights at Sea spoke with ABC News Pacific Beat programme and host, Inga Stünzner, on the case and the actions needed for justice to be achieved.
“The NGO investigating the death of a Kiribati fisheries observer has criticised authorities for the lack of disclosure given to the family of Eritara Aati Kaierua.
Mr Kaierua died in mysterious circumstances onboard a Taiwanese fishing vessel in March last year, but a 12-month long probe by Kiribati police has failed to make any conclusions.
The CEO of the NGO, Human Rights at Sea, David Hammond said the Kaierua family are the victims, because of the delay and the lack of information given to them by officials.
“They’ve been given little bits [of the pathologist report]…but they have not been given a good enough picture or regular briefing by the authorities,” he told Pacific Beat.
Human Rights at Sea has today released a report on its investigation into Mr Kaierua’s death, outlining 26 unanswered questions it posed to Kiribati authorities.
Mr Hammond said they have concerns over crime scene management, the credibility of evidence used to determine the cause of death and delays in collecting forensic evidence.
“The actual vessel which was the crime scene was released to go fishing,” he added.
There is also conflict over the cause of death.
A Fijian pathologist who examined the body treated it as homicide but a review by two other pathologist said death could have been from natural causes.
Mr Hammond said the delay in investigations and unanswered questions need to be addressed by Kiribati authorities.
There have been concerns in recent years about the safety of fisheries observers, who are employed to observe foreign fishing fleets and collect data.
The Association of Professional Observers believes at least eight fisheries observers have gone missing or been killed since 2015 while doing their job on ships across the globe, four of which have been Pacific Islanders.”
About Human Rights at Sea
Human Rights at Sea is a UK-based charitable NGO established in 2014 whose vision is to end human rights abuse at sea.