Friday, July 22, 2011

Mitropoulos speaks out on piracy

Despite releasing new interim recommendations and guidance (MSC.1/Circs. 1405 and 1406) on the carriage of armed guards, the IMO’s position remains unchanged.

Despite releasing new interim recommendations and guidance (MSC.1/Circs. 1405 and 1406) on the carriage of armed guards, the IMO’s position remains unchanged.

At a press conference this week, IMO secretary general Efthimios Mitropoulos stressed that seafarers should not be armed and the carriage of privately contracted armed security personnel (PCASP) remains a matter for the shipowner to request and the flag state to decide.

The request should only come following a thorough risk assessment. In addition, flag states should have a policy in place on whether, or not the use of PCASP will be authorised and, if so, under what conditions.

While providing guidance as to under which conditions PCASP can be contracted to prevent ships falling in the hands of pirates, Mitropoulos was at pains to point out that the IMO neither endorses, nor institutionalises the practice, or the carriage of firearms, on board vessels.

Masters, shipowners and companies should be aware that ships entering the territorial sea and/or ports of a state are subject to that state’s legislation. It should be borne in mind that importation of firearms is subject to port and coastal state regulations.

The carrying of firearms may pose an even greater danger if the ship is carrying flammable cargo, or similar types of dangerous goods.

Also by carrying arms on board, a vessel may encourage attackers to carry firearms or even more dangerous weapons, thereby escalating an already dangerous situation. Any firearm on board may itself become an attractive target for an attacker.

It should also be borne in mind that shooting at suspected pirates may impose a legal risk for the master, shipowner or company, such as collateral damages.

In some jurisdictions, killing a national may have unforeseen consequences even for a person who believes he or she has acted in self defence. Also the differing customs or security requirements for the carriage and importation of firearms should be considered, as taking a small handgun into the territory of some countries may be considered an offence.

Mitropoulos was speaking six months into this year’s World Maritime Day theme – ‘Piracy – Orchestrating the Response’. He gave a breakdown of the number of meetings held and correspondence exchanged with world bodies in an effort to solve the problem, such as the United Nations and NATO.

He called for a stronger political will and asked for more naval vessels and military aircraft to be made available, while acknowledging the forces were now stretched, due to the North African political problems, in particular Libya.

Later this year, the IMO is to start co-operating with the Asian anti-piracy organisation ReCAAP, which will give it a greater overall picture of the problem.

As part of the IMO backed Djibouti Code of Conduct initiative, the proposed Regional Training Centre, Djibouti (DRTC) has moved a step closer. The design and building contracts have been negotiated and agreed by the Government of Djibouti.

IMO has agreed to fund the building up to $2.5 mill from the Djibouti Code Trust Fund. A MOU was signed on 30th May 2011 between IMO and Djibouti and transfer of start-up funding is imminent from IMO. Building work is scheduled to commence on 5th September 2011.

Elsewhere, work on fusing the coastal radars and AIS in Tanzania into the Dar es Salaam MRCC is in progress. A needs analysis for similar work in Kenya is funded and about to commence. GMDSS and NAVTEX systems are being provided to the Seychelles using funds donated by Japan.

A plan to fuse the VTS and AIS in Yemen and Djibouti using funds donated by South Korea is on hold until Yemen’s security situation stabilises, the IMO said.

No comments:

Post a Comment