European Parliament passes 'Tools of Torture' resolution
Amnesty International welcomes the resolution passed by the European Parliament today (17 June), recognising the need for urgent action by the Commission and Member States to improve laws designed to stop the EU trade in ‘tools of torture’.
The resolution renews calls made by Amnesty International and the Omega Research Foundation in a report published earlier this year, which showed how European companies participate in the global trade in ‘tools of torture’, such as fixed wall restraints, metal ‘thumb cuffs’, and electroshock ‘sleeves’ and ‘cuffs’ that can deliver 50,000 volt shocks to detained prisoners.
Amnesty International’s EU Director Nicolas Beger said:
“This resolution is welcomed, yet it should only represent the first step by the EU in turning words into deeds. European companies are filling the torturer’s toolkit with equipment that can contribute to serious human rights abuses and it is about time that the EU and Member States take their legal obligations seriously.”
The trade in tools of torture has continued despite a 2006 regulation that introduced Europe-wide controls, banning the international trade in policing and security equipment designed for torture and ill-treatment. The law also regulated the trade in other equipment widely used in torture around the world.
Amnesty International now calls on both the European Commission and EU Member States to acknowledge the European Parliament resolution and address the issues raised at the forthcoming meeting of the Committee on Common Rules for Exports of Products, on 29 June 2010.
As a priority, Amnesty is urging for there to be proper oversight of the implementation of the 2006 regulation, after it was shown that only seven EU countries have publicly reported their export authorisations of policing and security equipment covered by the regulation, despite the legal obligation to do so.
The Commission and the Member States should also use the meeting to look at closing legal loopholes, firstly by expanding the lists of prohibited and controlled items, and secondly by developing proposals for a vitally needed 'catch-all' amendment to the Regulation.
Such a move would stop the activities of companies in several EU countries which have escaped the law by importing equipment which is essentially identical to banned or controlled items, but which falls outside the controls through rebranding or technical modifications.