The IMO is preparing to develop guidelines for the investigation and preservation of evidence following allegation of a serious crime having taken place o board a ship or following a report of a missing person from a ship; and guidelines on the pastoral and medical care of victims.

The decision to include this as a new output on the Legal Committee’s agenda follows the adoption by the IMO Assembly of a resolution on the subject (A.1058(27)), which invited member states to submit proposals to the committee.

During discussion on the guidelines to be developed, delegations expressed the views that: the guidelines should cover all types of ships, not only passenger ships; they should take into account the fact that more than one state might have jurisdiction; they should ensure co-operation between states with the primary investigative role and other interested states and investigative agencies such as specialist police units; the rights of suspects should be respected in line with human rights conventions and should take into account issues such as due process;  possible overlap with the Code of International Standards and Recommended Practices for a Safety Investigation into a Marine Casualty or Marine Incident (Casualty Investigation Code) should be avoided; and no liability should be attributed by the guidelines to the master, officers or crew should it be found that any evidence be lacking or contaminated through inexperience in collecting evidence.

According to the IMO, the issue should also be brought to the attention of the Maritime Safety Committee (MSC), given possible implications for training.

No deadline was given when the guidelines would be ready and/or implemented.