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Catholic charity condemns treatment of stranded fishermen

By on Friday, 5 July 2013

Apostleship of the Sea national director Martin Foley (©

Apostleship of the Sea national director Martin Foley (©

A Catholic maritime charity has accused the British border authorities of treating a group of foreign fisherman “like criminals”.

Martin Foley, national director of Apostleship of the Sea, said he would be writing to the Home Office to complain about the “heavy-handed and inefficient” treatment of two Filipino and two Indonesian fishermen in Newcastle.

The four were stranded in Britain when the fishing boat they were working on was impounded due to the owner’s financial troubles.

As the crew were only contracted to work on one vessel they weren’t able to transfer to another for alternative work. As they were working on transit visas, the UK Border Agency had them arrested in mid-June and taken to a detention centre.

The men were separated from their luggage, which contained their seaman’s books, and were frightened that they would have criminal records affecting their future employment, Apostleship of the Sea said. They were subsequently transferred to a Heathrow detention centre where some of them remain.

Since March the crew had not been paid. This meant that they were unable to send money back home to their families in Indonesia and the Philippines, with one crew member saying that his children were going hungry.

Throughout their ordeal the crew have been helped and supported by the Apostleship of the Sea’s Tyne port chaplain, Paul Atkinson.

Mr Foley said: “The application of immigration rules to these men has taken no consideration of their circumstances. It is appalling that overseas fishing crews who are stranded in the UK through no fault of their own are treated like criminals and subjected to treatment that has demeaned and humiliated them. I intend to raise this matter with the Home Office and the local MP.”

  • Acleron

    Disgraceful xenophobia. Good for the charity in exposing and highlighting this injustice.

  • Emma Green

    apalling. But typical of UK Border Agency. Seems to find difficulty in deporting Abu Hamza but detains these innocent men. Thank God for Apostleship of the Sea

  • Hermione

    I like to help Apostleship of the Sea when I can afford it. They do amazing work and without all the seamen who work so hard on cargo ships we wouldn’t have all the worldy goods we are free to enjoy. God Bless those who help them.

  • jimmy t

    Absolutely apalling how can we help?

  • licjjs

    On the one hand the immigration authorities have let in countless thousands of illegal immigrants and then, in a case which is so patently obviously nothing to do with people illegally breaching our borders, they act like senseless bureaucrats. In fact, these men should have been treated more like people saved from a shipwreck.

  • Edy

    i know well this two man from Indonesia, his name Agus and Windi, Agus was arrive in Jakarta Airport last night (11 jul), i say thankful for everyone who give their kindness to care about this fisherman cases, god bless us