State Department Says Commercial Ships Should Use Armed Guards for Protection

By Carlton Purvis

Because of the piracy problem, governments in the Horn of Africa have shown low tolerance for arms being moved in and out of the area.

Four British men working for Protection Vessels International, a private security company that specializes in protecting ships, were held for five months in Eritrea after the government said it found the men in possession of poison-tipped bullets, bulletproof vests, sniper rifles, and night vision binoculars – tools that could be used for terrorism or espionage the government insisted. Instead of representing themselves as security services, the men only had tourist visas, Eritrean authorities said.

The UN resolution also calls for states to prosecute alleged pirates, to seek out organized crime groups funding pirates, and to consider methods to assist victims of pirates.

In 2009, days after the U.S. Navy rescued an American merchant captain from Somali pirates, current Republican presidential candidate Ron Paul (R-TX) said that ships should be able to arm themselves against pirates and have the right to do so under international law.

When ships travel unarmed, "a couple little motor boats running up to these large vessels with 4 or 5 pirates...can take over these vessels and then hold ships hostage," he said. Paul also said it's a company's responsibility to protect themselves while traveling in seas known to be dangerous.

photo by Official U.S. Navy Imagery


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