May 15, 2024

IMO’s Legal Committee finalizes new guidelines on seafarer criminalization

IMO’s Legal Committee has finalized a new set of guidelines to ensure seafarers are protected against unfair treatment if detained in foreign jurisdictions on suspicion of committing a crime. The fair treatment of seafarers was high on the agenda of the Legal Committee’s 111st session, which took place from 22 to 26 April at IMO headquarters in London, chaired by Ms. Gillian Grant of Canada. The guidelines are to be applied where seafarers may be detained in a jurisdiction other than that of the seafarers’ nationality on suspicion of committing crimes during the course of their employment on board a ship. They aim to protect seafarers’ right to due process during investigation and detention by public authorities. In his closing remarks, IMO Secretary-General Mr. Arsenio Dominguez said: “The well-being of seafarers continues to be of great concern to me and to the entire Membership of IMO… The Guidelines will add a significant value in resolving the challenges faced by seafarers and ensure that seafarers are treated fairly.” The guidelines contain guidance for port States, flag States, coastal States, States of which the seafarer is a national, shipowners and seafarers. The finalized guidelines will be submitted as a base document to the Joint ILO/IMO Tripartite Working Group to identify and address seafarers’ issues and the human element (JTWG) for further refinement. The JTWG will then submit the guidelines to the Legal Committee and to the ILO Governing Bodies for endorsement.