The following text is from a news release from the International Organization of Masters, Mates & Pilots:
IMO GUIDELINES ON THE 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 primary purpose of these Guidelines is to assist masters, with respect to the preservation of evidence and the pastoral and medical care of persons affected and, when appropriate, the collection of evidence, during the time period between the report or discovery of a possible serious crime and the time when law enforcement authorities or other professional crime scene investigators take action.
The master is not a professional crime scene investigator and does not act as a criminal law-enforcement official when applying these Guidelines. These Guidelines should not be construed as establishing a basis of any liability, criminal or otherwise, of the master in preserving and/or handling evidence or related matters.
These Guidelines focus on what can practically be carried out on board a ship for the preservation and/or collection of evidence and protect persons affected by serious crimes until such time that the relevant law enforcement authorities commence an investigation. They are designed to apply to all vessels regardless of ship type, and should help facilitate the restoration of the normal operation of the ship, once the situation relating to the serious crime on board comes to an end.
It is recognized that the risk of a serious crime taking place on a ship may be addressed through the applicable onboard security arrangements. Although the emphasis is on the need for preventive measures, the risk of a serious crime on board ships cannot be completely eliminated. If a serious crime is committed, it is imperative for all involved that it is fully investigated by the appropriate authorities. In addition, it is of the utmost importance that allegations of sexual assault and other serious crimes are taken seriously, that the persons affected are protected and that their pastoral needs are fully addressed.
The investigation of serious crimes at sea presents particular challenges due to the different entities that may be involved including, but not limited to, flag States, coastal States, port States and States of nationalities of the persons on board.
Click here to read the IMO rule in its entirety.