Impiego di NMP e Guardie Giurate in Funzione Antipirateria: Poteri di Arresto e Uso della Forza (The Use of Vessel Protection Detachments and Private Security Guards against the Threat of Pirate Attacks: Use of Force and Powers of Arrest)
Rivista Marittima, Vol. 146, No. 1, 2013, pp. 32 - 42
12 Pages Posted: 27 Feb 2013 Last revised: 28 Feb 2013
Bylaw No. 107 of 12 July 2011 (converted into Law No. 130 of 2 August 2011) provides for the deployment of Vessel Protection Detachments (VPDs) belonging to the Italian Navy, as well as private security guards, on board Italian-flagged merchant vessels transiting throughout the Somali basin, against the threat of pirate attacks. Starting from the study of such norm, this article investigates the legitimate use of force by both VPD operators and private contractors, together with their power to arrest and detain suspect pirates under Italian law. In doing so, it also explores a number of important operational issues such as: a) the potential overlapping between VPD operators and the Master of the ship in the exercise of police powers (which could hypothetically lead to the paradoxical situation where servicemen are arrested by the Master for misconducts occurred during an attack); b) possible conflicts of jurisdiction between Italy and coastal States in case of incidents happened in their territorial waters or other maritime spaces under their jurisdiction; and c) the legal status of security guards – and in particular whether they may attain the status of public officials – which has an effect on their powers of coercion and detention.
On the whole, while the VPDs’ legal framework seems clearer and more detailed, the use of security guards highlights a number of significant legal gaps, which can however be filled by applying some relevant norms of the Italian criminal code. Nevertheless, in both cases the major – and still unresolved – problem remains that of the lack of agreements with coastal states on matters of jurisdiction. Such a requirement is absolutely necessary in order to avoid – in the future – cases like the Enrica Lexie incident (concerning the arrest and detention by the Indian authorities of two Italian VPD members accused of having mistakenly killed two fishermen, confused for pirates).
Keywords: Vessel Protection Detachments - VPDs, Private Security Guards, Piracy, Powers of Arrest and Detention, Use of Force, Somalia, Italy
JEL Classification: K420, K49
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation