IMO unveils information sharing platform on migrant trafficking by sea

Some rescued migrants

Some rescued migrants

A new inter-agency platform for information sharing on migrant trafficking by sea has been launched by the International Maritime Organization (IMO). Christened the International Organization for Migration (IOM), it would collaborate with the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), in order to better understand unsafe migration by sea.

Meanwhile, the 2015 IMO award for exceptional bravery at sea is to go to Aviation Survival Technician, Christopher Leon of the United States of America (USA), for risking his life to save four men from a sinking ocean-going rowing boat in a dramatic rescue in the night.

According to IMO, it is anticipated that the platform will assist in improved monitoring of incidents associated with unsafe and irregular mixed migration by sea, on a global basis, with a view to better analysis of trends. The IMO/IOM/UNODC platform will include a joint database on migrant incidents and on suspected smugglers and vessels.

A revised reporting format for states, international organizations and relevant non-governmental bodies to submit information to the database was recently agreed on at IMO’s Maritime Safety Committee (MSC 95).

The joint information sharing platform was initiated following the inter-agency high-level meeting to address unsafe mixed migration in March, which was held at IMO Headquarters, London, with the aim of facilitating dialogue and promoting enhanced cooperation and harmonization between United Nations agencies, international organizations, non-governmental bodies, governments and the shipping industry.

That meeting agreed on the need for timely and accurate information on migrant incidents and on suspected smugglers and vessels. The IMO council, meeting for its 114th session in London, has also endorsed the decision of a Panel of Judges that Leon’s actions, including staying on the sinking boat with one of its crew for more than two gruelling hours while the rescue helicopter refuelled, merited the top award.

The council further endorsed the decision that the other two crew members of the rescue helicopter CG-6531, Lieutenant Scott Black and Aviation Maintenance Technician, Michael Spraggins, should both receive a certificate of commendation for their part in the rescue.

The council also decided that of the other nominees or groups of nominees, from a total of 27 nominations, received from 10 member states and two non-governmental organizations in consultative status with IMO, four should receive certificates of commendation and three should receive letters of commendation.

The council endorsed the Secretary-General’s proposal that all merchant vessels involved in the rescue of migrants around the world be given special recognition, as a separate activity from the IMO Award for exceptional bravery at sea.

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