Monday, January 16, 2012

Lethal Force and Armed Guards

The use of armed guards on board ships transiting the Gulf of Aden is becoming increasingly commonplace. This despite the fact that only two years ago the IMO was against it and in 2010 the IFSMA (International Federation of Shipmasters' Associations) said, "that under no circumstances should the crew on board merchant ships be armed or any armed guards be taken on board." Now the IMO is asking governments to endorse the practise; some countries already have, including Britain, Denmark, Spain and Norway. Ships bearing the flag of other countries continue to use private armed guards regardless of whether it's legal or not and other ship owners are changing the country where they have registered the ship. For example, several German companies have already changed flag so they can carry armed guards legally.

And the British Parliament is currently drawing up guidelines on the use of 'lethal force' or 'shoot to kill policies' on ships carrying the British flag. That is, when will it be deemed legal to kill a person suspected of piracy.

But people suspected of piracy are dying now - they are killed by some of the 'official' campaigns operating around the Horn, killed by IUUs and other illegal fishing boats, or just disappearing.