No more trade in tools of torture

EU-based companies can no longer market and trade in a range of security equipment that can be used to torture and ill-treat people, following a vote in the European Parliament in Strasbourg this week. 

Alyn Smith MEP, member of the European Parliament’s Foreign Affairs Committee, hailed the strengthening of the existing EU-wide controls on the trade in torture equipment as a victory for human rights and common sense.

Alyn said:

“European companies must stop benefiting from the barbaric global business of torture and executions and today the European Parliament made sure that EU trade policy serves to protect human rights, the fight against torture and the eradication of the death penalty across the world.  EU-based companies can no longer contribute to inhumane practices in third countries, which are totally at odds with EU values.

"This will actually be quite challenging for some companies that exist in a shadowy world where they were previously not quite illegal, but clearly, to my mind and any other reasonable person, aiding, abetting or facilitating torture.  Today's vote will close the loopholes and ratchet the bright light of scrutiny a little brighter into their shadows.

“Regulations against the trade in torture tools are described by many NGOs as ground-breaking and unique in the world, and I would like to thank Amnesty International Scotland and their members for their input and support. The vote in favour of strengthening the existing legal framework means that EU Member States will no longer aid law enforcers to commit acts of torture or other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment.  

“Our group in the European Parliament was instrumental in closing the legal loopholes in the current regulation, making sure that a license would also be required in case of goods in transit and a complete prohibition of promotional activities of banned goods, such as commercial fairs. No brokering and provision of technical assistance and training will be allowed. 

“The range of already banned items comprises a veritable chamber of horrors: thumb-cuffs, restraint chairs, metal batons and even injection systems designed to administer lethal injections to name just a few.”