Cyprus is the third biggest maritime fleet in the EU and the tenth biggest fleet in the world. Generally speaking, Cyprus is a strategic market leader for many factors. Firstly, it is located at the crossroads of three continents, Europe, Asia and Africa. Secondly, Cyprus provides double tax treaties with forty five countries and bilateral agreements of cooperation in merchant shipping with 23 countries. Thirdly, the low set up and operating costs for businesses and liberal foreign direct investment decision regime.
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Finally, the VAT exemption for international transport services in case the effective use and enjoyment of the services take place outside the EU.
Since Cyprus is a market chief in ship management, maritime safety and security is a highly important issue. This particular concern has been extensively addressed by the Safety of Cyprus Ships Against Functions of Piracy and Other Unlawful Acts Law 2012, published in the Established Gazette on 15th June 2012. The law denotes a new era in protection for ships flying the particular Cyprus flag against security risks. Furthermore, the law reinforces maritime protection and is based on advice and plans of the International Maritime Organisation.
The Department of Merchant Shipping (DMS) has issued detailed instructions concerning maritime security regarding ships flying the Cyprus flag.
Piracy and Unlawful Acts
The law covers numerous potential security issues such as piracy and “unlawful acts”. The term “unlawful acts” is defined as “an act or suspicious act or circumstance which usually, by its nature or context, threatens the security of the ship or may cause damage to the ship in order to the persons on board or the cargo”.
Examples of unlawful acts covered by the law:
seizure of control of the ship (including acts of piracy)
committing acts of violence against a person on board the ship or leading to death or injury
damage to or even destruction of the ship or its cargo
placement on board the ship of a device which may damage or destroy the ship, its valuables or bodily harm the persons onboard
abduction, detention or hostage taking of one or more persons on-ship
theft or transportation out of the deliver of certain items (portable equipment or outfitting, documents, supplies, equipment or of parts of the deliver or of personal property/money belonging to individuals onboard)
exercise or threat associated with violence or commissioning of one of the above
transmission of information that may help in commissioning or attempted commissioning of anyone of the above acts.
Maritime Security: Obligation and Rights
Legislation articulates that ships flying the particular Cyprus flag are subjected to apply obligatory security measures when sailing through high-risk zones. These steps should be applied in addition to the provisions associated with SOLAS Chapter XI-2, ISPS Code and Regulation (EC) No . 725/2004, for establishing and preserving the safety of the ship and averting “unlawful acts”.
The master and operator of the ship are obliged to consider necessary measures for the safety from the ship and avert “unlawful acts”. Moreover, they are obliged to put into action the additional protective measures, when the deliver faces a risk or is within a high-risk area.
The owner of a ship flying the Cyprus flag must submit to the DMS an application requesting a certificate which will be issued to permit the boarding of private security personnel and the use by them of firearms or even other equipment in high-risk areas.
the name and full details of the ship, such as type, call sigh and ship’s identification number
full details of the personal security company it wishes to interact
a detailed risk assessment and description of security measures which will be performed
a description of firearms and the equipment required to be used
places, port, port facilities, sea area plus dates of embarkation and disembarkation of the security company
places and dates of the loading and unloading of firearms and other equipment
description of the itinerary of the ship
the copy of the written private contract with the ship security company that can be signed or the ship’s operator has an intention to sign
The permission will be granted under the conditions that this request is justified by reference to the security assessment, and the security staff will be specially licensed by the government to provide this kind of services.
Furthermore, the particular ship operator is obliged to make sure that the security company he engages includes a valid license, adequate indemnity insurance and that all guards can speak with the master and crew. Additionally , the contents of the contracts authorized by the operator of the ship as well as the private ship security company must include:
a. details of all protection guards
b. details of authorised firearms or other special equipment to be used
c. conditions allowing the use of guns and special equipment.
d. procedures to be followed to amend one of the matters a-c.
According to the law, the particular private ship security companies should submit an application to the DMS to obtain a license allowing them to provide services of unarmed or armed personnel to Cyprus ships.
The application will be examined with the DMS. If the request is accepted, then the relevant certificate will be released. In other words, the company is permitted to give security services in compliance with the governing regulations. The Courts of Cyprus will administer all actions of licensed private ship security company in Cyprus and the DMS must approve all persons utilized by this kind of companies.
The law provides a set of rights for the personnel on board, like the right for self-defense, the right to arrest and detain an individual intending to make or has committed an unlawful act, and the right to impound hands and equipment of individuals attempting to or have committed an unlawful act.
Responsibility to report
The master and the operator of the ship have the responsibility to report immediately to the DMS any unlawful act or try to commit an unlawful act and provide relevantly and full information to the DMS in regards to that act. Additionally , the operator is directly obliged to inform and keep updated the family members of hostages and those injured because of an unlawful act.