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Preserving Evidence

Resolution A.1091(28) Adopted on 4 December 2013 (Agenda item 6) GUIDELINES ON PRESERVATION AND COLLECTION OF EVIDENCE FOLLOWING AN ALLEGATION OF A SERIOUS CRIME HAVING TAKEN PLACE ON BOARD A SHIP OR FOLLOWING A REPORT OF A MISSING PERSON FROM A SHIP, AND PASTORAL AND MEDICAL CARE OF PERSONS AFFECTED

The above is a link to 2013 IMO guidelines about preserving and collecting evidence. The guidelines recognise that the Master is not a professional crime-scene investigator, but makes recommendations on actions the Master can take to preserve evidence.

It is possible that the Master has not seen these guidelines, so you can use them to assist with the process.

The guidelines include information on what to wear when handling evidence, how to handle items contaminated with blood or semen, how to package clothing and bedding, how to take photographs etc. If you wish evidence to be submitted later, showing that you or the Master have followed the IMO guidelines will show best practice considering the limited resources available at sea.

If the Master is the perpetrator, you could enlist the help of another trusted crew member (preferably a senior officer) to help you protect as much evidence as possible. Your immediate safety must take priority, if the Master is the perpetrator and discovers that you are preserving evidence for an investigation, you may put yourself in danger.

It is worth noting that the guidelines also repeatedly emphasise the need for pastoral and medical care of those affected by the crime:

“All persons affected by alleged serious crimes deserve full consideration of the allegations and should receive pastoral and medical care, as appropriate.

In cases of allegations of a serious crime, especially sexual assaults and serious physical attacks, the persons affected should receive respect for coming forward, recognition that the allegation will be reported and given support during this time of trauma. They should be given every opportunity to explain what happened, give a full account of the incident, and be reassured that every effort will be made to protect them from any further harm while they remain on board the vessel. The persons affected should also be free from any burden of decision-making relating to the alleged perpetrator.”

As we have seen from our recent survey, the treatment of sexual assault victims by their shipping companies and their fellow crew leaves a lot to be desired, so it may be helpful to have these IMO guidelines to hand when dealing with management on board or ashore.

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