Some Legal and Non-Legal Reflections on the Use of Armed Protection Teams on Board Merchant Vessels: An Introduction to the Topic
Military Law and the Law of War Review, Vol. 51, No. 1, 2012, pp. 7-19
14 Pages Posted: 1 Aug 2013
Date Written: 2012
This introductory article depicts the background scenario for the deployment of military Vessel Protection Detachments (VPDs) and Privately Contracted Armed Security Personnel (PCASP) on board commercial ships in transit off the coast of Somalia. The author highlights in detail a number of potential legal and non-legal issues raised by this kind of practice, focusing, in particular, on: a) the need to consider the use of VPDs and PCASP as a contingency measure; b) organizational problems such as logistics and questions of safety; c) conflicts of jurisdiction and issues of immunity (to be solved solely through the stipulation of bilateral agreements with coastal States); d) the possible arrest of pirates (as well as their further prosecution or release); and e) the “innocent passage” issue. The conclusion may seem slightly cynical as the author asserts that the less the protection service is regulated or even known to the public, the more effective it is in “problem-solving”. Indeed, with regard to private security companies, in order for their service to be profitable and financially sustainable, they must avoid the potential economic impact of criminal and civil proceedings on their business, as well as any other legal hurdle in general. In contrast, although military VPDs are normally characterized by a much greater level of transparency, the risk for them to be involved in a criminal investigation following any “incident” seems quite high, and this may affect the quality of their service.
Keywords: VPD, PCASP, Maritime Piracy, Somalia, Jurisdiction, Immunity, Prosecution, Feasibility of Service
JEL Classification: H56, K14, K33, K42
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation