On 4 April 2014, in Montreal, an International Civil Aviation
Organisation (ICAO) diplomatic conference adopted a Protocol to
amend the Convention on Offences and Certain Other Acts
Committed On Board Aircraft 1963 (Tokyo Convention). The
Protocol is the culmination of over four years' work to
modernise the Tokyo Convention, particularly having regard to the
increase in frequency of incidents involving disruptive and unruly
passengers on scheduled commercial flights.
The Protocol will come into force when 22 member states ratify
the instrument. The International Air Transport Association (IATA)
has called on the governments of its member airlines to move
quickly to ratify the Protocol, which will provide an effective
deterrent for unacceptable behaviour on board aircraft.
Key changes to be brought about by the Protocol include:
Expanding the jurisdiction over offences and acts committed on
board aircraft from the State of Registration of the aircraft
the State of the Operator (where the offence is committed on an
aircraft leased without crew to a lessee whose principal place of
business is, or who permanently resides, in that State), and
the State of Landing (where the aircraft has its last point of
take-off or next point of intended landing within its territory and
the aircraft subsequently lands in its territory with the alleged
offender still on board).
Where the State of Registration, the State of the Operator, or
the State of Landing has become aware that one or more of the other
states are conducting an investigation, prosecution or judicial
proceeding in respect of the same offence or act, that state will
consult the other states with a view to coordinating their
The obligation of the above states to consult is without
prejudice to the obligation of the contracting state to which the
alleged offender has been delivered. Under the Convention, the
aircraft commander is able to deliver the alleged offender to the
competent authorities of a contracting state in which the aircraft
lands. The contracting state to which the person is delivered is
obliged to make a preliminary investigation into the alleged
offence and then inform the other states, as well as the State of
Nationality of the detained person, about whether it intends to
Contracting states may establish in-flight security officers
who are then deployed pursuant to bilateral or multilateral
agreements between the contracting states to take reasonable
preventive measures where those officers have reasonable grounds to
believe such action is immediately necessary to protect the safety
of the aircraft or the persons or property in the aircraft.
The legal protection currently given to the aircraft commander,
members of the crew, any passenger, and the owner or operator of
the aircraft in respect of any action taken against the alleged
offender is extended to the in-flight security officer.
Each contracting state is encouraged to initiate appropriate
criminal, administrative, or other forms of legal proceedings
against any person who commits on board an aircraft an offence or
act, and in particular, physical assault or a threat to commit such
assault against a crew member or a refusal to follow a lawful
instruction given by or on behalf of the aircraft commander for the
purpose of protecting the safety of the aircraft or the persons or
property in the aircraft.
Each contracting state is able to legislate for appropriate
measures to punish unruly and disruptive acts committed on
Nothing in the Convention precludes any right to seek recovery
of damages from a person disembarked or delivered pursuant to the
With the Protocol having received the substantial support of the
ICAO member states that attended the diplomatic conference, it is
hoped that the required 22 ratifications will be made quickly to
enable the Protocol to come into force and, where necessary,
contracting states can pass legislation to implement these
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guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought
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