Unruly passengers on board flights that land in Kenya’s airports will face prosecution and other tough sanctions if Parliament ratifies a new protocol amending the Convention on Offences and Certain Other Acts Committed on Board Aircraft.
Airlines will have the right to, and may seek compensation from, unruly passengers for costs incurred as a result of the offender’s behaviour.
Attorney-General Githu Muigai wants MPs to ratify the changes contained in the Montreal Protocol, 2014, to offer Kenya jurisdiction over offences and other acts committed aboard aircraft.
The Montreal Protocol, which was signed in 2014 by 88 countries including Kenya, builds on the Tokyo Convention of 1963.
The Tokyo Convention limits jurisdiction over offences and other acts committed on board an aircraft to the State of registration of the aircraft in question, opening way for unruly passengers to go unpunished.
“This causes a jurisdictional gap when the aircraft commander delivers or disembarks an unruly passenger to competent authorities in another State other than the State of registration,” Prof Muigai said in a memorandum to the Speaker of the National Assembly.
Prof Muigai said the main object of the Montreal Protocol is to empower States to deal with wayward passengers while preserving prosecutorial discretion.
He said that physical assault or a threat to commit such assault against a crew member and refusal to follow a lawful instruction given by or on behalf of the aircraft commander for safety purposes will constitute an offence.
“Nothing in this convention shall preclude any right to seek the recovery, under national law, of damages incurred, from a person disembarked or delivered pursuant to article 8 and 9 respectively,” the proposed changes states. Prof Muigai said incidents of unruly passengers threatening the safety and security of the flight are of concern to airlines and cabin crew.
“The behaviour of unruly passengers also adversely affects the travel experience of other passengers, causes operational disruption and leads to significant costs for airlines,” he said.
The protocol allows states to establish an in-flight security officer programme on a bilateral or multilateral basis.
The ratification of the protocol will ensure Kenya meets her obligations under the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) which it is a signatory.
“The impact of the protocol on national interest inter alia is to enhance safety and security in civil aviation, promote passenger and freight air transportation, increase trade and tourism and facilitate regional and global integration,” Professor Muigai said.
The protocol requires the amendment of the Protection of the Aircraft Act, Cap 68 Laws of Kenya, to align it with provisions of the protocol.
The Cabinet, in a meeting on June 8, approved the ratification of the protocol.
Credit: Business Daily