THE 100th session of the International Maritime Organization legal committee has approved new guidelines on collecting evidence following allegations of a serious crime on board a ship.
The guidelines cover what to do following a report of a missing person from a ship, as well as pastoral and medical care for victims of crime.
The draft will be submitted for approval to the IMO Assembly’s 28th session, which meets in November.
The guidelines state that the master is not a professional crime scene investigator and does not act as a criminal law enforcement official when applying the guidelines.
The IMO said the guidelines did not establish any liability, criminal or otherwise, of the master in preserving or handling evidence or related matters.
The committee also endorsed guidelines to assist countries in meeting reporting requirements under the 2010 International Convention on Liability and Compensation for Damage in Connection with the Carriage of Hazardous and Noxious substances by Sea 2010.
The guidelines were developed and adopted jointly by IMO and the International Oil Pollution Compensation Funds secretariats.
They are expected to help overcome a major obstacle preventing states ratifying the protocol, namely the difficulty complying with this reporting requirement, given the variety of HNS substances that could be subject to the reporting requirement.
The committee examined the findings of a survey by Seafarers’ Rights International into respect for the rights of seafarers facing criminal prosecution.
The survey results were submitted by the observer delegations of the International Transport Workers’ Federation and the International Federation of Shipmasters’ Associations.
The IMO said: “The findings strongly suggested that the rights of seafarers, as enshrined in the guidelines on fair treatment of seafarers in the event of a maritime accident, adopted jointly by IMO and the International Labour Organization, are often subject to violation.”
Fair treatment of seafarers in the event of a maritime incident will remain on the agenda of the legal committee, which invited delegates to submit proposals for outputs to improve compliance with the guidelines to its next session.
It also recalled its previous decision to look further into liability and compensation issues linked to transboundary pollution damage from offshore oil exploration and exploitation.
It aims to develop guidance to assist states seeking bilateral or regional arrangements following the Deepwater Horizon incident in 2010 and the 2009 incident on Montara offshore oil platform, in the Australian Exclusive Economic Zone, in which a well blew out, creating a significant oil spill.
The committee agreed to help states that need guidance to secure bilateral and multilateral agreements.