Archive news and events

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


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.

  1. Raise awareness of problematic COVID-19 inspired security related regulations; disproportionate or otherwise unlawful use of force; and to contain protests;
  2. 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;
  3. 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


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


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: [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...]