British-flagged ships to be allowed to carry armed guards

GreySidemicroIn an interview on BBC One's Andrew Marr Show yesterday, British Prime Minister David Cameron said that British-flagged ships will soon be licensed to carry armed guards for protection against pirates.

Following is a transcript of the relevant portion of the interview

ANDREW MARR:

This is you know a chance for you to speak to lots of leaders that you don't often meet and you've been speaking, I think, to some from the Horn of Africa about the very, very persistent difficult issue of piracy and ships and indeed individuals being taken by pirates from Somalia.

DAVID CAMERON:

Well that's right. It's one of the great things about the Commonwealth - is it brings together such a disparate group of nations - but sometimes we share very common interests although we're on the other side of the world. So I've been having conversations with, for instance, the Seychelles and with Mauritius who actually imprison pirates, and we need to help them do that so they're not set free in the ludicrous way they too often are now. Also with the Kenyans.

ANDREW MARR:

(over) So what more can we do?

DAVID CAMERON:

Well what we're going to do - and this is very important - is we are now going to say to British flag ships that they will be licensed, if they want to, to have security guards, armed guards on those ships. The evidence is that ships with armed guards don't get attacked, don't get taken for hostage or for ransom, and so we think this is a very important step forward. (Marr tries to interject) We're going to have to licence that in a proper way - the Home Office has agreed to do that - and I think this is a big step-up for our campaign against this piracy. It is only one in a number of steps we need to take.

ANDREW MARR:

Sure, but it's quite a dramatic one because it means in effect that you will be licensing non-military civilian Britons to shoot to kill - if necessary - because otherwise there's no point in having them there.

DAVID CAMERON:

Well we have to make choices in this, and frankly the extent of the hijack and ransom of ships round the Horn of Africa I think is a complete stain on our world. The fact that a bunch of pirates in Somalia are managing to hold to ransom the rest of the world and our trading system, I think is a complete insult, and so the rest of the world needs to come together with much more vigour. And I want to help lead this process, and as part of that we are going to take this step of putting armed guards on our ships so that they don't get attacked. I think it's an important step forward. It's only one step forward. I want to make sure more of these pirates actually face justice, and that is why we're working with other countries. And I want us to have a far greater focus on this broken country, Somalia, and how we can try and deal with the causes of the hijack, the piracy, the ransom, the kidnappings and all the other problems you see flowing out of that broken country.

ANDREW MARR:

And do you think there's any way of getting these people tried and imprisoned because at the moment they're just let loose, including by our own Navy? There is no way of trying them.

DAVID CAMERON:

Well one … two of the countries are actually trying them and imprisoning them right now. Two actually not very wealthy countries but who are represented here and I've been discussing: the Seychelles and Mauritius. There may be other steps that we can take. There are a range of options to make sure more of these people face justice. But in the short-term, one of the fastest things we can do is armed guards on these ships to make sure they don't get attacked. I think it would be effective.


October 31, 2011

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