Cyprus approves armed guards
7 June 2012The flag-of-convenience state of Cyprus has approved the use of armed guards on board its shipping as part of a package of measures to tackle piracy. The new legislation, approved by its House of Representatives, comes as Cyprus is about to take on the presidency of the European Union, and makes it one of the first EU countries to authorise the use of trained and certified onboard armed personnel.
The law forbids armed guards from using their weapons without the order or permission of the ship's master, regulates the licensing of security companies and their staff, and covers the storage of arms and ammunition on board.
In a move that extends the international legal action to tackle piracy, the new legislation also enables courts in Cyprus to try those involved in piracy.
The United Arab Emirates (UAE) is one state that has started to take legal action against piracy. Its federal criminal court has recently sentenced 10 Somali pirates to life imprisonment for their role in attempting to hijack the UAE oil carrier Arrilah-I in April 2011. The pirates boarded the vessel and threw hand grenades into the secure citadel, where 21 seafarers and three security guards were taking refuge. The pirates surrendered after intervention by UAE forces, backed by the US Navy. They will be deported to Somalia to serve their sentences.
According to figures for 7 June from the International Maritime Bureau (IMB) worldwide piracy reporting centre, Somali pirates currently hold captive about 12 vessels and 178 hostages. Hostages continue to include seven Indian seafarers from the Asphalt Venture and four South Koreans from the Gemini, still held captive despite the payment of ransoms.
The latest incidents worldwide reported to the IMB include:
- Seven robbers armed with long knives boarded a bulk carrier anchored at Belawan, Indonesia on 4 June and threatened the crew, but escaped empty handed after the alarm was raised.
- Three armed men boarded a tanker anchored in Lagos, Nigeria on 1 June. The crew retreated into the citadel for four hours, when they found that the men had left and no damage had been done.
- Armed pirates hijacked a fishing vessel in the Malacca Straits on 23 May and took the six crewmembers hostage. The Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency sent a patrol boat to rescue the vessel and crew, and found that the pirates had already left.
All attacks and suspicious sightings should be reported to the IMB Piracy Reporting Centre, Tel: +603 2031 0014 (24 hours), Email: email@example.com