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Question for Foreign and Commonwealth Office

UIN 35824, tabled on 27 April 2016

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, what steps he is taking to ensure British citizens employed on international marine vessels are not arrested for entering the territorial waters of a country with incorrect paperwork for arms held on the ship to combat pirates.

Answered on

5 May 2016

It is the responsibility of employers and employees to ensure that they hold the correct paperwork for any arms held. The Department for Transport's advice to UK flagged vessels employing Private Maritime Security Companies (PMSC) on board their ships is that the PMSC has, amongst other things: access to legal advice, given the imprecise position of armed guards under various national jurisdictions and international law; and an understanding of port State and coastal State laws and requirements with respect to the possession, carriage, and movement of firearms, ammunition and other security related equipment (such as body armour).

The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills trade controls in the private armed sector apply to UK companies operating in the UK, and to UK nationals working for non UK companies. The use of the Open Government Trade Control License Maritime Anti-Piracy ensures that companies operating in the sector do so in adherence to industry standards and international law.