A First Major Legal Action Is Taken to Stop Seafood Imports Tied to the Investigation
On Thursday, October 26, a non-profit organization in Washington D.C. filed a legal petition with the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) asking the agency to stop all squid from entering the country tied to the Zhen Fa 7, a ship that was the focus of part of our story first published in the New Yorker. This is the Chinese squid ship where Daniel Aritonang, a young Indonesian man, was working in the months before his death. This legal petition is important because it is part of a wider and growing call for federal authorities to act in response to the investigation.
The organization that filed the petition is called the Human Trafficking Legal Center, which is dedicated to protecting victims of trafficking by connecting survivors with pro bono legal representation. The relevant law that the organization is using is Section 307 of the United States Tariff Act of 1930, which prohibits the importation of all goods produced wholly or in part abroad by forced or prison labor. CBP is authorized to detain any shipment that is believed to contain goods made with forced labor at any U.S. port of entry. Since 2020, CBP has issued at least five WROs targeting the seafood industry. So far, these WROs have largely targeted vessels fishing for tuna while other fleets exposed to human rights and labor concerns have avoided scrutiny.
The broader significance of this petition is that it occurs against the backdrop of other important stakeholders who have also called for CBP to act immediately and firmly in response to the investigation.