Berlin Approves Draft Law For Armed Guards

The German government has finally approved the draft law that will ultimately govern the employment of private maritime security companies on board Germany-flagged vessels.

However, the new rules are not expected to be in place for at least another 12 months.

The federal export control authority BAFA will be responsible for the certification process, in co-operation with the federal border police. Authorisation will be carried out according to the guidelines of the International Maritime Organization.

The new law will also involve a change to the law governing weapons. The federal weapons authority in Hamburg will be responsible for approving the weapons carried on board. This will also allow foreign PMSCs to receive the necessary permits comparatively easily. Military weapons will remain banned.

The validity of the certificates will be limited to two years. “It makes sense to limit the validity in order to maintain a sustainable high standard in relation to the equipment and personnel of the security providers,” said Ralf Nagel, general secretary of the shipowners’ association VDR.

However, the requirement to renew the permit should not interfere with existing contracts, he added.

On the whole, VDR was pleased, although it noted the government had taken a long time to make the basic decision to allow the employment of private security companies. VDR still thinks sovereign forces would have been the best choice.

Mr Nagel said once the law and the relevant regulations are in place, there will have to be a sufficient number of approved security companies before the obligation to employ such providers becomes effective.

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