By Samson Echenim
The International Air Transport Association (IATA) has said that it looks forward to coming into operation of Montreal Protocol 2014 (MP14) on January 1, 2020.
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According to IATA, MP14 enhances the capacity of states to curb the escalation in the severity and frequency of unruly behaviour onboard aircraft.
This follows the November 26, 2019 ratification of MP14 by Nigeria, the 22nd state to do so.
MP14, properly named the Protocol to Amend the Convention on Offences and Certain Other Acts Committed on Board Aircraft, is a global treaty that strengthens the powers of states to prosecute unruly passengers.
MP14, IATA said, helps to close a legal gap under the Tokyo Convention 1963, whereby jurisdiction over offenses committed on board international flights rests with the state where the aircraft is registered and that this causes issues when unruly passengers are delivered to the authorities upon landing in foreign territories.
The international aviation body listed unruly and disruptive passenger incidents on board flights to include: physical assault, harassment, smoking or failing to follow crew instructions.
These incidents, IATA said may compromise flight safety, cause significant delays and operational disruption and adversely impact the travel experience and work environment for passengers and crew.
“Everybody on board is entitled to enjoy a journey free from abusive or other unacceptable behavior. But the deterrent to unruly behavior is weak. About 60 percent of offenses go unpunished because of jurisdictional issues. MP14 strengthens the deterrent to unruly behavior by enabling prosecution in the state where the aircraft lands. The treaty is in force. But the job is not done. We encourage more states to ratify MP14 so that unruly passengers can be prosecuted according to uniform global guidelines,” said Alexandre de Juniac, IATA’s director-general and CEO.
IATA urged States to also review the effectiveness of the enforcement mechanisms available to them in line with ICAO Guidance on Legal Aspects of Unruly and Disruptive Passengers (ICAO Document 10117) which gives information on how civil and administrative fines and penalties can be used to supplement criminal prosecutions.
The international airline body hinted that in addition to strengthening jurisdiction and enforcement, airlines are working on a range of measures to help prevent incidents and manage them more effectively when they do happen.
These include enhanced crew training and raising awareness with passengers of the potential consequences of unruly behaviour on board.