SAMI has stressed the importance of UK becoming involved in efforts to counter Somali piracy
The Security Association for the Maritime Industry (SAMI) has stressed the importance and significance of the UK government and parliament becoming involved in efforts to counter Somali piracy.
This comes following the release of the latest House of Commons Foreign Affairs Committee report on ‘Piracy off the coast of Somalia’ which states it is unacceptable that the Indian Ocean has become so dangerous for commercial shipping, while supporting the UK government decision to permit private armed guards to defend British flagged ships.
The fact that, as yet, no vessel has been taken by pirates when guarded by armed teams speaks volumes, said SAMI.
However, according to SAMI founder Peter Cook: “The bold decision to allow vessels to use armed guards was just the start. Now the authorities must set about the task of ensuring the systems and rules for the use of force which they employ are appropriate and adequate.”
The report recognises that the UK government’s guidance on the use of force, particularly lethal force, is limited and there is little to assist a ship’s master in making a judgement on when force can be used. There remains a lack of critical detail and questions as to whether a private armed guard onboard a British flagged vessel can open fire at a fast approaching skiff need clear answers on what is permissible and what is not.
“They need to know what they can do, how and when. Ship masters must be guided so they become more comfortable, confident and cogniscent in the use of force from their vessel. There are many fears and concerns for masters today and, as they wrestle with issues of criminalisation, we have to recognise their concerns and allay them,” said Mr Cook.
SAMI, which now has over 100 members, is working to build a bridge between the shipping industry, authorities and maritime security providers and is currently starting the first part of its accreditation scheme.