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Shooting at Vietnamese fishermen act of violating international law: experts

Saturday, September 19, 2015, 13:35 GMT+7
Shooting at Vietnamese fishermen act of violating international law: experts
Border guard officers of the southern province of Kien Giang provide local fishermen with basic knowledge of maritime law and regulations.

Shooting at fishermen while they are fishing is an inhuman act that violates international law, Vietnamese experts said.

“The shooting is unacceptable at all levels,” Dr. Tran Cong Truc, the former head of the Vietnamese government’s border committee, told Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper in an interview published Saturday, referring to the last week attacks of a Thai police boat on Vietnamese fishing ships.

A Vietnamese fisherman was killed, while two others were injured in the attacks at six different boats in the waters of the southern province of Kien Giang that borders Thailand’s sea.

“Whether the fishermen have accidentally or deliberately entered the Thai waters, they have caused no threats to Thailand’s national security,” Truc, who is also an expert in international maritime law, said.

He emphasized that such shooting violates international law, runs against international practices and norms, and causes bad effects to the two countries’ ties.

If Vietnamese fishermen really violate the Thai waters, Thailand’s forces should handle the incident by capturing, instead of shooting them, Truc said.

Truc also said the Vietnamese Ministry of Foreign Affairs has sent a diplomatic note to Thailand to oppose the shooting and require Bangkok to investigate the deadly incident.

“I think that in the coming time, Vietnamese fishermen should be equipped with cameras to videotape such possible attacks and use the footage as convincing evidence in dealing with them,” Truc said.

Lawyer Vo Xuan Trung, from the Ho Chi Minh City Bar Association, said that no regulations in the 1982 Unites Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea allows a law enforcement ship of a country to shoot that of another nation.

“If Vietnamese people violate the waters of a country, then the local force does not have the right to open fire on them,” lawyer Trung said.

He underscored that the shooting at ordinary people is an inhuman act that also violates international law and goes against the moral standards of human beings.

The lawyer also requested that the Vietnamese government strengthen measures to protect fishermen at sea.

The deadly incident in question happened on September 11 when the ship Thai Police 528, from the Thai Coast Guard, launched attacks on three pairs of Vietnamese fishing boats in the waters off Kien Giang, according to Colonel Pham Van Sang, commander of the provincial Headquarters of Border Guard.

When the foreign ship approached a pair of fishing boats – KG-94811 TS and KG-94812 TS – its crew used a walkie-talkie to broadcast an order in Vietnamese: “Yêu cầu tàu Việt Nam dừng lại, không dừng sẽ bắn chết…” (“The Vietnamese ships are required to stop or you will be shot dead…”).

As soon as the order was given, the foreign ship fired at the boat KG-94811 TS.

After seeing the local boat’s captain and steersman, Nguyen Hung Cuong, suffer injuries in his right thighbone, the foreign ship began to run after the other boat, KG-94812 TS, and then shot at it.

The foreign ship later chased and opened fire on the last pair of fishing vessels, KG-94058 TS and KG-94059 TS.

After finding that one of the two captains of the local boats, Ngo Van Sinh, 38, died in his cabin, the foreign ship left the waters. 

Sinh died after receiving three shots in his face and head.

One more fisherman was also injured in these attacks.

At a press briefing in Hanoi on Thursday, Vietnam’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman Le Hai Binh said the Vietnamese government has strongly demanded that Thailand investigate the attacks, handle those involved, and compensate for the human and property losses of the Vietnamese fishermen

“In any circumstances, Vietnam strongly condemns the inhuman treatment of Vietnamese fishermen by the threat or use of force,” Binh said.

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