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International Law on handling of stowaways

Stowaway hide out

There are several international Laws guiding the handling of stowaways

Firstly, let’s understand who is a stowaway?

Stowaway is quite different from hijackers or pirates by definition.

A stowaway is a person who illegally boards a ship, by hiding somewhere in order to travel from undeveloped to developed country. This is mostly done to sort for living or running out of the country due to law against the person.

According to IMO and international law, it’s illegal for any person to enter a country without document of identification. Therefore crews are mandated to check and report any suspicious person whom they find on board before approaching the next port of call.

Stowaway hiding

Also, read more about Stowage plan and problems behind it

Stowaway maybe difficult to handle as this person has determined to reach his destination by all means. So it’s important to know the proper way to handle them as the international law can go against the crew onboard if mishandled them ( mostly the ship captain)

Mishandling of stowaway can be ;

  1. Killing of the stowaway due to fear
  2. Throwing overboard alive
  3. Put in the drum with food and water, then drop to open sea. Etc.

All of the above are against international law. Therefore the ship captain most always acts properly.

The proper way of handling stowaway ;

  1. Report to the flag state, port of call, port of departure and to the ship head office.
  2. Keep him or her safe, healthy, and clean till disembarkation.
  3. Identification of stowaway nationality.

How to avoid stowaway from boarding the ship?

As said before, to avoid stowaway, hijackers, and pirates from hiding inside the ship, you most ;

  1. Maintain proper ISPS gangway watch keeping.
  2. Carry out proper checks as per the stowaway checklist. Which the ship crew most did before departure.
  3. Check and verify each port terminal operators identity who boards the ship.
  4. Keep your searchlights on at night for watchkeeper to see clearly the ship sides.

With all of the above, the ship and her crew can safely and happily enjoy their voyage calmly.

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