Archive news and events
UN: GGE report presented to the UN General Assembly. June 2022
On 22nd June 2022, the Chair of the UN Group of Governmental Experts (GGE), Asger Kjærum, presented the GGE's report to the UN General Assembly. The report was developed by the GGE as part of a process established in Resolution 73/304 in 2019 ("Towards torture-free trade: examining the feasibility, scope and parameters for possible common international standards"). Considering the findings of the UN Secretary-General's 2020 report, the GGE was tasked with exploring options for establishing common international standards on the trade in goods used for torture and other ill-treatment and the death penalty.
To learn more about this process, see our dedicated webpage.
After the presentation of the report by the GGE Chair, statements were delivered by representatives from Argentina, Austria, China, Egypt, the EU, France, Iran, Israel, Luxembourg, Mongolia, Saudi Arabia, and Singapore. Mongolia, on behalf of the 63 member states of the Alliance for Torture-Free Trade, spoke in favour of international controls on the trade in tools of torture.
More details of these presentations are available in the recording of the session, here. If you have questions about the process at the UN, please get in touch.
Mexico: Training for Federal Public Defenders on the Istanbul Protocol. June 2022
Between June 13 and 17, the Omega Research Foundation had the opportunity to run a multidisciplinary training programme for over 60 federal public defenders from all over Mexico.
The programme was developed in close cooperation with the Federal School for Judicial Training (Escuela Federal de Formación Judicial - EFFJ), the Federal Public Defender’s Office (Instituto Federal de Defensoría Pública – IFDP), its Technical Secretariat for Combatting Torture, and the General Directorate for Human Rights of the Supreme Court of Justice of the Nation.
Arms fairs uncovered: Access the dataset. June 2022
In a joint event with Campaign Against Arms Trade (CAAT), last week we launched a publicly-accessibly repository of our combined arms fair data.
Both Omega and CAAT collect a range of information on arms and security trade fairs – with Omega’s data collection going back over 30 years. Working in collaboration with CAAT, the raw data is now available in a repository hosted on Github. Omega has also launched a platform to search the data, or explore various different aspects of the information available, this interactive data browser is available here.
The event, which included speakers from Omega and on behalf of CAAT, also included presentations from Dr Chris Rossdale (University of Bristol) and Rachel Small (World Beyond War). The video of the event is available here, and the live-tweeted record is available here.
We are continuing to update the data, and hope that it will be useful for researchers, journalists, NGOs, human rights activists, and all others interested in exploring and challenging the global arms trade.
Brazil: The police must be held accountable for arbitrary use of force. June 2022
Police behaviour in Brazil has reached new lows, with officers killing a man by asphyxia, and causing the death of 26 people during a brutal raid in Rio de Janeiro, in the space of just one week. As investigations into police killings rarely result in prosecutions and sanctions, the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT) and the Omega Research Foundation urge Brazilian authorities to launch a complete reform of the police oversight and accountability mechanisms. [more…]
New international proposals for cracking down on the torture trade - May 2022
There are currently no human rights controls at the global level on the trade in goods used for torture & other ill-treatment.
Along with our partners Amnesty International & the International Human Rights Clinic at Harvard Law School, the Omega Research Foundation welcomes the release of the group of governmental experts' report outlining new options for regulating the torture trade. Read more: https://tinyurl.com/4a27ry3j
With Amnesty International & International Human Rights Clinic, we are calling for a ban on goods whose only practical purpose is torture or other ill-treatment (including spiked batons & electric shock belts, for example), as well as for strict human rights-based trade controls on law enforcement goods “where there are reasonable grounds for believing” they will be used for torture or other ill-treatment, like batons or chemical irritants.
This new report is the most recent step in an ongoing international process to develop international controls on the torture trade, which you can read more about on elsewhere our website.
Arms fairs uncovered: Dataset launch and panel discussion - June 2022
On 8 June 2022 at 18:00 BST Omega and Campaign Against Arms Trade will be launching a joint CAAT project on arms fairs. We have collated data on companies that exhibit at the fairs and information on the weapons they sell into a repository that all can access. We will be showcasing the data in the repository, discussing why this data is important, and how arms trade and human rights researchers can use it in their research and campaigning [more...].
To register follow this link - https://caat.org.uk/events/arms-fairs-uncovered.
Handbook on handcuffs and other instruments of restraint in court hearings: international edition
The international edition of the Handbook on handcuffs and other instruments of restraint in court hearings was launched on 18 April. The Handbook lays out issues surrounding the use of handcuffs and other restraints in the courtroom. It explores how the wearing of handcuffs and other instruments of restraint in the courtroom can impact on rights including the right to be free from torture and other ill-treatment and due process rights including the rights to defend oneself with equality of arms, the right to take a full part in proceedings and the right to be presumed innocent until proved otherwise.
The first edition of the Handbook, published in 2020, was developed specifically for the Brazilian judiciary to tackle the issue of the routine use of handcuffs and other restraints in courtrooms in Brazil. The new edition expands on the 2020 publication, including not only relevant legislation, case-law and good practice from Brazil but from several other countries as well. It also sets out guidelines and recommendations applicable to judicial hearings in general. [more...]
New resource: Visual guide to law enforcement and security equipment - 15 September
Omega are global experts on law enforcement and security weapons and equipment, and today we have published our new Guide to this equipment. The Guide to law enforcement and security equipment pulls together images, key concerns, policies and recommendations on nearly 60 types of equipment from handcuffs to tear gas to electric shock batons. It covers specialist equipment, including technologies that are specifically designed to inflict torture and other ill-treatment. In addition, this Guide also covers equipment that can have a legitimate use when used appropriately and in a human rights-compliant manner, but is often misused to commit acts of torture and other ill-treatment by prison, police, and other agencies. [more...]
Blunt Force: Investigating the misuse of police batons and related weapons - 9 September
Amnesty International and the Omega Research Foundation today called on governments to support a UN-led process to regulate the trade in law enforcement equipment, highlighting how ubiquitous weapons like police batons are routinely misused in ways which can constitute torture and other ill-treatment.
In a new investigation, Blunt Force, the organizations catalogued 188 incidents where law enforcement officials have misused striking weapons such as batons, which are currently traded with little to no regulation. The investigation draws on open-source photo and video evidence from 35 countries, and includes examples from violent crackdowns on protests in Belarus, Colombia, France, India and Myanmar. Videos show law enforcement officials using batons and similar weapons like lathis and sjamboks to inflict punishment, beat people who are already restrained, deliver unjustified dangerous blows to the head, or choke people in neck holds. [more...]
México: Carta abierta sobre el Acuerdo de fecha 25/08/2021 - 9 de septiembre de 2021
Omega Research Foundation y la Anti-Torture Initiative escribieron una carta abierta al Presidente de México, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, para compartir nuestras preocupaciones con relación al Acuerdo de fecha 25 de agosto de 2021, que denota una comprensión equivocada del objetivo y alcance del Protocolo de Estambul: Manual de las Naciones Unidas para la investigación y documentación eficaces de la tortura y otros tratos o penas crueles, inhumanos o degradantes.
A continuación, el texto completo de la carta: [more...]
Training for the judiciary in Mexico on international obligations on torture has begun
A long-awaited training course on the Istanbul Protocol and its Interaction with the Mexican Federal Judiciary began this week.
Between 2 August and 15 December this year, the Omega Research Foundation, in collaboration with the Anti-Torture Initiative, will run a multidisciplinary training programme for around 180 judges from the federal criminal justice system.
The training programme was developed in close cooperation with the Federal School for Judicial Training (Escuela Federal de Formación Judicial - EFFJ) and the General Directorate for Human Rights of the Supreme Court of Justice of the Nation. [more…]
NEWS: UK Working Group on Arms statement on the continuous conflict between Israel and Palestine, June 2021
The UK Working Group on Arms (UKWG) welcomes the latest Israel-Gaza ceasefire, bringing temporary but essential relief to those under attack. However, we note that this does nothing to address the underlying causes of the conflict or to end it, and therefore call on the UK government to consider this broader context when setting arms export policy. We recognise that the UK has never approved arms sales to Palestinian armed groups. It has, however, approved the transfer of large quantities of arms to Israel throughout the extended history of the conflict, despite the longstanding risk that equipment might be used to commit or facilitate serious violations of international humanitarian and human rights law. [more...]
PRESS RELEASE: Council of Europe takes decisive action to combat torture tools trade, March 2021
The Council of Europe (CoE) has today taken a vital step towards stemming the trade in torture tools and execution equipment, Amnesty International and the Omega Research Foundation said, as they called on all CoE member states to live up to commitments made today.
The CoE Committee of Ministers adopted a formal Recommendation which provides a framework for states to better regulate the trade in goods which could be used for “capital punishment, torture or other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment”. The Committee of Ministers is the CoE’s decision-making body, composed of government representatives of 47 member states.
“We welcome this decisive action by the Council of Europe - we cannot end torture without stopping the trade in equipment used to inflict it. All 47 CoE member states must now swiftly implement these recommendations, to ensure none of them is trading in pain and suffering,” said Nils Muižnieks, Amnesty International’s Regional Director for Europe.
“This Recommendation is also essential for reining in abusive police forces all over the world. It sends a clear message to governments that the trade in certain law enforcement equipment is conditional on respect for human rights.” [more...]
AWARD! Webby Award Winner - Tear Gas: An Investigation, March 2021
Tear Gas: An Investigation has won a Webby Award! Detailing concerns about the use of tear gas, the web platform features technical information on tear gas, including about its medical and health effects, as well as expert interviews, information on trade restrictions, and maps incidents of abuse.
Check out the platform on Amnesty International’s site, and thank you to everyone who voted for us! [more...]
EVENT: Measures against the trade in goods used for the death penalty, torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, May 2021
Implementation of the Council of Europe Recommendation CM/Rec(2021)
The Omega Research Foundation, the German Chairmanship of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe, the Steering Committee for Human Rights (CDDH), and Amnesty International, invite you to a webinar to be held Monday, 17th May 2021, 10:00-13:00 CET. The event will discuss Measures against the trade in goods used for the death penalty, torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment: Implementation of the Council of Europe Recommendation CM/Rec(2021)2.
On 31st March, 2021 at the Council of Europe, the Committee of Ministers adopted a new legal instrument (Recommendation) to address the trade in goods used for torture and other ill-treatment and the death penalty. The Recommendation text and Explanatory Memorandum are available online. The Recommendation provides a framework and guidelines to prohibit the trade in certain, inherently abusive, types of equipment, as well as to control the trade in other types of law enforcement equipment that can be readily misused for torture or other ill-treatment. It also provides guidance on the trade in certain goods used for the death penalty. For more information on these different kinds of equipment, see our ‘Resources’ page, or get in touch. [more...]
OBITUARY: Remembering Professor Christof Heyns. March 2021
10 January 1959-28 March 2021
The Omega Research Foundation was deeply saddened to hear of the death of Professor Christof Heyns, who passed away on 28th March, 2021.
Professor of Human Rights Law at the University of Pretoria and Director of the Institute for International and Comparative Law in Africa, Christof was a founding member of the Omega Research Foundation Network of Experts. All Network members join Omega staff in expressing their sadness at his untimely and sudden death. [more...]
EVENT: LRC Anti-Torture Resources Launch, March 2021
SOUTH AFRICA PARTNERS' EVENT
Upcoming partner event:
The Legal Resources Centre, our partner in South Africa, is hosting a launch event for their recently-produced LRC Anti-Torture Resources. [more...]
EVENT: Brazil: Training on Use of Force Standards, March 2021
On 31 March 2021, the Omega Research Foundation provided online training to the Brazilian Mechanism to Prevent and Combat Torture (MNPCT) on international human rights standards on the use of force, including less lethal weapons. All eight members of the MNCPT attended and contributed to valuable discussions.
The Brazilian National Mechanism to Prevent and Combat Torture (NPM) has documented countless cases of torture and other ill-treatment perpetrated using firearms and particularly less lethal weapons, while stating that the presence of large quantities of weapons in places of detention “leads to conditions very conducive to torture”. Its reports help to create an evidence base demonstrating the need to strengthen regulation and oversight of the use of force in places of detention throughout Brazil. [more...]
EVENT: UN Side event on the use of security-related measures in response to COVID-19, February 2021
The Omega Research Foundation, Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, and the European Center for Not-for-Profit Law (on behalf of the ICNL Alliance) invite you to our Human Rights Council virtual side event on the use of security-related measures in response to COVID-19 on Thursday, 25 February 2021, from 13:00 to 14:30 CET.
- Raise awareness of problematic COVID-19 inspired security related regulations; disproportionate or otherwise unlawful use of force; and to contain protests;
- Promote practical measures to reduce the risk of unwarranted harm arising as a result of the use of force by law enforcement officials during the pandemic;
- Inform multilateral state discussions and efforts on these issues and provide recommendations for future actions and efforts to strengthen standards. [more...]
EVENT: Towards Torture-Free Trade - Opportunities and Challenges, December 2020
FRIDAY 11 DECEMBER 2020, 10AM EST/4PM CET
On 11th December 2020, Omega participated in a webinar on Torture-Free Trade. Michelle Bachelet, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, and Eamon Gilmore EU Special Representative for Human Rights, were keynote speakers, and the event included:
- Mr. Olof Skoog (EU Head of Delegation),
- Dr. Nicola Wenzel (Council of Europe, Steering Committee for Human Rights),
- Dr. Ezgi Yildiz (Senior Researcher at the Global Governance Centre, the Graduate Institute, Geneva), and
- Dr. Hilde Hardeman (Head of the Service for Foreign Policy Instruments, EU).
The panel discussion also included Dr. Michael Crowley (Omega Research Foundation), Mr. Rajat Khosla (Senior Director, Amnesty International), and Prof. Manfred Nowak (Secretary General, Global Campus on Human Rights). [more...]
STATEMENT: Omega statement to CWC Conference of States Parties, December 2020
OMEGA URGES THE CHEMICAL WEAPONS CONVENTION STATES PARTIES TO ADDRESS: MISUSE OF RIOT CONTROL AGENTS (RCAS), EXACERBATED IN COVID-19 PANDEMIC; PROLIFERATION AND MISUSE OF “REMOTE CONTROL” RCA DELIVERY SYSTEMS; AND POTENTIAL DEVELOPMENT OF CENTRAL NERVOUS SYSTEM ACTING WEAPONS.
Statement on behalf of the Omega Research Foundation and Bradford University to the 25th Conference of States Parties to the Chemical Weapons Convention, highlighting the current serious misuse of riot control agents (RCAs) by law enforcement officials, exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic, and warning of the consequences of further development, proliferation and misuse of “remote control” RCA dispersal mechanisms. The two organisations also call for a moratorium on any potential development of Central Nervous System (CNS)-acting weapons. [more...]
REPORT: Review of EU Anti-Torture Regulation and its implementation, November 2020
Findings and recommendations from Omega's review of the EU Anti-Torture Regulation
Omega’s newest report, Review of EU Anti-Torture Regulation and its implementation, has just been published on our website (access it here: https://omegaresearchfoundation.org/publications/review-eu-anti-torture-regulation-and-its-implementation). [more...]
EVENT: Colombia: Webinar on monitoring the use of force and documenting torture in places of detention, November 2020
On 19 November 2020, the Omega Research Foundation (Omega) and Dejusticia held a webinar on the identification and documentation of the abusive use of force and torture in places of detention. The event was attended by representatives of several key stakeholders, including the National Penitentiary and Prison Institute, the Constitutional Court and the civil society Commission tasked with monitoring compliance with the recommendations of the Constitutional Court of Colombia in the framework of its decision regarding the “unconstitutional state of affairs” in the country’s prisons (2013 and 2015). [more...]
REPORT LAUNCH: Manual on Handcuffs and other Instruments of Restraint in Judicial Hearings, October 2020
The Manual on Handcuffs and other Instruments of Restraint in Judicial Hearings was launched on 21 October 2020. It seeks to facilitate the work of the Brazilian judiciary and protect the rights of criminal suspects and others in custody, by providing technical information to reduce the over-use of instruments of restraint in the courtroom. [more...]
EVENT: Chile: Webinar on less lethal weapons and grave human rights violations, August 2020
On 27 August 2020, the Omega Research Foundation presented a webinar, organised as part of the Universidad Católica de Temuco’s series of events with international human rights experts. Topics discussed included the relationship between a rigorous selection and testing process for less lethal weapons and the legitimate use of force; international use of force standards; and the link between excessive use of force and grave human rights violations, particularly arbitrary killings and torture. [more...]
ARTICLE: The Use of Force in The Americas, June 2020
Less lethal weapons such as pepper spray, rubber bullets and stun grenades can be found in the armouries of law enforcement agencies worldwide, but their misuse can have serious human rights implications. Despite this, the general public and even key stakeholders who deal with allegations of misuse, such as legal practitioners and forensic pathologists, are frequently unfamiliar with their characteristics and the limits placed on their use by international human rights law and standards. This article presents the new UN Guidance on Less-Lethal Weapons in Law Enforcement to a Latin American audience. The authors address common misconceptions which often legitimise the abusive use of force by public security forces and analyse problematic practices involving less lethal weapons in the Americas. [Spanish] [Portuguese]
EVENT: Capacity-Building on Investigating Torture for Mexico City Judiciary, September 2019
Between September 23 and 27, the International Bar Association's Human Rights Institute, the Anti-Torture Initiative and the Omega Research Foundation, with the participation of the Onudh Mexico, had the opportunity to work with 60 judges, magistrates and medical and psychological experts from the Judiciary of Mexico City, in trainings that included international and national standards on the prevention, investigation and punishment of torture, the use of force, and the documentation of medical and psychological examinations in light of the Istanbul Protocol: The Manual on Effective Investigation and Documentation of Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment. [more...]