EU ban on the trade in 'tools of torture'. March 2010.
In 2006 the European Union (EU) introduced the world's first multilateral trade controls to prohibit the
international trade in equipment that has no other practical purpose than for capital punishment, torture
and other ill-treatment; and to control the trade in a range of policing and security equipment frequently
misused for such ill-treatment. Council Regulation 1236/20051 fills a major gap in human-rights-based
export controls. It introduced unprecedented, binding trade controls on a range of equipment which is
often used in serious human rights violations, but which has not usually been included on Member
States' military, dual-use or strategic export control lists.
This landmark piece of legislation has been widely welcomed by human rights bodies in the United Nations and elsewhere, and has influenced proposed new trade controls in at least one other major global exporter of such equipment, the USA. Three years after its introduction, however, Amnesty International and the Omega Research Foundation have found a number of issues concerning loopholes, its implementation, and its influence on the attitudes and behavioural changes of states.