|Can a private security team shoot at these guys? Or does he need to wait until fired upon?|
But Mr Ottaway said much more detail was needed on how UK-flagged vessels could respond, if confronted by pirates.Ok, we're talking British law (as it only applies to UK-flagged ships) but I would assume that once fired upon by an "armed skiff" a security team is justified in returning fire - unless there is some "you must retreat as far as you can rule" before shooting back rule. However, up the to the point of receiving fire there are a whole lot of scenarios that can arise - perhaps the private security teams need to have counsel present.
"The government's guidance on the use of force, particularly lethal force, is very limited and there is little to help a ship's master make a judgement on where force can be used.
"The question anyone would ask is that if a private armed guard on board a UK-flagged vessel sees an armed skiff approaching at high speed, can the guard open fire? The government must provide clearer direction on what is permissible and what is not."
The pirates, on the other hand, don't seem to be troubled much by rules - or concerns about damage to innocent lives - being outlaws and all.
Update: You can find an excerpt of the House of Commons Foreign Affairs Committee report on "Piracy off the coast of Somalia" here:
We conclude that the guidance on the use of force, particularly lethal force, is very limited and there is little to help a master make a judgement on where force can be used. The Government must provide clearer direction on what is permissible and what is not. Guidance over the use of potentially lethal force should not be left to private companies to agree upon. We recommend that the change of policy be accompanied by clear, detailed and unambiguous guidance on the legal use of force for private armed guards defending a vessel under attack. This guidance should be consistent with the rules that would govern the use of force by members of the UK armed forces in similar circumstances, and should include:
We recommend that the Government take this forward as a matter of urgency, as we understand that private armed guards are already being deployed on some UK-flagged vessels.
- the circumstances in which private armed security guards faced with a clear threat of violence may respond with force, including lethal force, where proportionate and necessary, and
- examples of a "graduated response" to an attack, including confirmation that nothing in UK law or the CPS guidance requires a victim of pirate attack to await an aggressor's first blow before acting in self-defence.