EU Tightens the Shackles on Torture Trade

taser

Source: Wikimedia Commons

Restrictions on the trade of weapons that can be used for torture have been tightened in the EU. The European Parliament passed the law on October 4 updating the previous anti-torture legislation as well as adding new laws member states must abide by.

“The trade on the tools of torture and of a range of law enforcement and security equipment is booming … Despite being internationally banned, torture continues to be used in many countries in the world on a large scale” Amnesty International Human Rights advisor, Ara Marcen Navel said.

“Between 2009 and 2013, 141 countries have committed torture and/or other ill treatment in every region of the world.”

Member states such as Germany, Spain, Hungary and the Czech Republic were most responsible for the sales of the now banned weapons which includes modified shackles, Tasers and electric shock batons.

Updated provisions on the anti-torture regulation will now give the commission the ability to add new items to the list of banned goods in a timelier manner. It will now be illegal to buy or sell advertising space on or offline for the sale of the banned items, as well as some legal items that could be used for the purpose of torture.

The legislation has introduced a ban on the transit of goods that can be used as torture weapons amongst member states. Transiting, exchanging or promoting the banned goods at weapons trade shows is included.

The EU torture weapon ban was last updated in 2005, however many loopholes were present in the law. Ranging from the sale of leg shackles, modified cage structures and new technologies that were not accounted for at the time the law was implemented. The loopholes also allowed police forces to obtain ‘security’ equipment such as shock batons and stun guns as well as training police force in techniques that could be used for torture.

Other methods of torture have been a concern for the EU. “Medicines that can be used (for torture) for example, should not be sold to prisons or law enforcement agencies” European Parliament member Marietje Schaake told Europa, the official EU website.

The issue of misconduct from police or law enforcements is also present in Europe.

“We remain concerned, for example, that some EU companies are still providing training to police and security forces throughout the world in techniques that could be defined as torture or ill treatment. This is especially worrying as it means police officers are being trained to harm people in ways that don’t even require specialized equipment.” Marcen Naval said.

The news laws are expected to stop the influx of torture weapons being transited through Europe to third world countries where torture is still practiced on a regular basis.

Despite the new legislations, it is predicted to still be a long road towards the eradication of the torture trade in Europe, as Marcen Naval explains.

“The illicit trade is always an issue and it is difficult to track, (we) will continue to report and denounce cases where these horrific goods have been used for torture, ill-treatment or to execute people.”

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