Naval Chief Admiral D K Joshi has called for international regulation of private maritime security agencies as some of them may become a law unto themselves and assist pirates, criminals, smugglers, gun runners, human traffickers and terrorists.
Speaking at the ‘Galle Dialogue on Maritime Security in the Indian Ocean’ at Galle in south Sri Lanka on Monday, Admiral Joshi pointed out that there were about 140 private armed security agencies operating in the Indian Ocean.
Many of these agencies were unregulated he said. In the absence of international norms, the fishermen and other mariners bore the brunt of their actions.
Such security agencies grew in number in the wake of an increased threat from sea piracy, Admiral Joshi said.
But India’s robust action in sinking four pirate ships off Somalia had checked the piracy menace, he claimed.
Admiral Joshi said that one would have no problem if ships were unarmed but if there were armed personnel on board, they would cease to be peaceful trading vessels and become ‘Men of War’.
Coordinated action by national Navies was the way forward as piracy had now transmuted into a web of criminal activities, the Naval chief said .
The recent terror attack in Nairobi had its roots in piracy, he pointed out.
Earlier inaugurating the conference, Sri Lankan Defence Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa said the Chinese-built Hambantota port in South Sri Lanka did not pose a threat to any country as it was only a “commercial” venture.
Referring to the much-talked about rivalry of India and China in the Indian Ocean Region, Gotabaya said that Sri Lanka had good and strong relations with both the countries and that it would continue to follow a non-aligned policy in international relations and ties.
Organised by the Sri Lankan Navy, the fourth edition of the annual seminar on maritime issues is being attended by delegates from 35 countries.