Piracy Convention Needed to Govern Lethal Force, Registry Says

Navies and private armed guards protecting merchant ships against piracy should be governed by a global convention setting legal parameters for using lethal force and making arrests, according to the company that manages the third-biggest vessel registry.

Following are comments on Somali piracy made today at a luncheon in London by Clay Maitland, managing director of Reston, Virginia-based International Registries Inc. The company was appointed by the Marshall Islands to manage the 2,634 vessels that fly the country’s flag.

“We should go after the pirates, and we should do it in accordance with settled international law.”

A proposed Convention for the Suppression of Piracy needs to establish “how to shoot at pirates and whether to shoot at them and under what circumstances.

“We need a convention that says any arrested pirates can be tried at The Hague in accordance with this international agreement. Section two would state the circumstances under which an arrested person charged with piracy can be taken into custody, and it would be by a warship of any nation.

“In other words, we codify the law that existed in the 18th century, when the Royal Navy went out and caught pirates and suppressed it wherever they found it.”