China's Trade in Tools of Torture and Repression. September 2014.
Chapter 1 presents an overview of China’s law enforcement equipment manufacturing sector. It
looks in detail at four categories of equipment manufactured in China: restraints, electric shock
devices, striking weapons and crowd control gear, assessing in each category whether the equipment
has a legitimate use and, if so, the necessary controls that should apply to prevent misuse, or
whether the use of the device should be prohibited outright or suspended pending further research
by independent experts.
Chapter 2 looks at how this equipment has been used by law enforcement officials in China to violate
human rights. It describes cases in which law enforcement personnel have used electric shock
equipment and restraints to torture detainees held in China’s notoriously harsh detention facilities.
It also looks at the misuse of riot gear in the policing of public assemblies, including against Tibetan
and Uighur protesters.
Chapter 3 pieces together China’s opaque international trade in an array of law enforcement equipment
using data gathered at trade fairs, company literature, photographic evidence and specific
cases of irresponsible transfers. It analyses China’s export controls, and concludes that they suffer
from inadequate export assessment criteria, weak oversight, lack of transparency and reluctance to
enforce existing regulations. As a result, Chinese equipment marketed to law enforcement agencies
in other countries risks facilitating serious human rights violations.
Chapter 4 analyses the responsibility of states and companies focusing particularly on responsibilities
in relation to the export of law enforcement equipment. States have a legal obligation to co-operate
in the realization of human rights within and beyond their borders. The chapter argues that this
principle, already explicitly recognized in relation to a wide range of conventional weapons through
the Arms Trade Treaty and other international legal agreements, applies to the use and export of law
enforcement equipment. It also looks at the corporate responsibility to respect human rights and the
risk of corporate complicity in human rights violations where companies have failed to act with due
diligence to prevent equipment they manufacture or sell being misused.