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.

Fair treatment of seafarers

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.

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.

Upgrade of the system 

An upgrade of the system would enhance data accuracy and monitoring capabilities and support the swifter resolution of abandonment cases. This will support the implementation of the Guidelines on how to deal with seafarer abandonment cases, adopted at LEG 110.

The Task Force will submit a report to the JTWG, who will then conduct a final review and provide a clear report to the ILO Governing Body and the IMO Legal Committee for endorsement.

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