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Global aviation goes tough on terrorism, unruly passengers

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Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika (left) and Secretary General of ICAO, Dr. Fang Liu, in Montreal, Canada recently

•Nigeria ratifies protocols ahead of implementation in January 2020
Unruly passengers and terrorists alike are in for hard times as the international civil aviation community is set to activate new enforcement measures.

The new measures, which become effective January 2020, empowers airlines to better deal with unruly passengers and improve aviation security.

Nigeria’s ratification of the ‘Protocol to Amend the Convention on Offences and Certain Other Acts Committed on Board Aircraft’, otherwise called the Montreal Protocol 2014, brings the number of signatory countries to 22.

The Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika, while depositing the ratification in Montreal, Canada recently, said the feat was in line with Nigeria’s efforts to support air laws against unruly behaviour on board aircraft.

Recall that those criminal offences committed on-board international flights are governed by the Tokyo Convention 1963 or the Tokyo Convention. In April 2014, the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) adopted an amendment to the Tokyo Convention, known as the Montreal Protocol.

The Montreal Protocol extends jurisdiction to the states in which the operator is located and the state of destination of the flight, which includes a state to which the flight is diverted should the need arise from the unruly behaviour.

Allowing an unruly passenger to be prosecuted upon disembarkation makes it much easier and quicker, and thus more likely, for states to take to remedial action and prosecute the passenger.

Sirika said: “This is historic for Nigeria having been the 22nd state to deposit the ratification and give strength to the implementation which will come into effect from 1 January 2020. It is President Muhammadu Buhari’s desire that this law come into effect because it will mitigate against unlawful interference on board aircraft.

“Nigeria will continue to support any law that will make air transport even safer. And this is one of them,” he said.

According to the International Air Transport Association (IATA), who represents 280 airlines, unruly passenger incidents are a significant daily operational challenge for its members.

Last year the organisation received reports of 8,000 such incidents, with alcohol a high-ranking contributing factor; not being allowed to smoke, and getting annoyed with other passengers are other common causes. In 2011 6,000 incidents were reported, compared to 2007’s 500.

The Secretary General of ICAO, Dr. Fang Liu, while accepting the document said ICAO needed 22 countries to ratify this protocol for it to become effected, and Nigeria is the 22nd state to have completed the process. Hence, it will come into effect from 2 January 2020.

“I am delighted to announce that with this deposit, the Montreal Protocol 2014 will enter into force on 1 January 2020. I wish to commend Nigeria for being the 22nd state to have completed the ratification process of this instrument,” Liu said.

“The Protocol addresses the issue of rising incidents of unruly and disruptive behavior on board aircraft by significantly improving the ability of states to expand jurisdiction over relevant offences and acts to the operator. The Protocol will also serve to enhance global aviation security provisions by expressly extending legal recognition and protections to n-flight security officers.”

Apart from the Montreal Protocol 2014, Nigeria deposited ratification of the “Protocol Relating to an Amendment to the Convention on International Civil Aviation [Article 50(a)], signed at Montreal on 6 October 2016”, which is the proposal to increase Council member states from the current 36 to 40.

Also deposited was the “Protocol Relating to an Amendment to the Convention on International Civil Aviation (Article 56), signed at Montreal on 6 October 2016”, which is the increase of Air Navigation Commission (ANC) membership from 19 to 21.


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