Manufacture, trade and use of 'tools of torture' in the Council of Europe, Revised June 2018

Revised Omega report seeking to encourage and inform a process undertaken by the Council of Europe to develop rules targeting the trade in security equipment that could be used to facilitate torture

On 26th January 2018 the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) unanimously adopted Recommendation 2123 (2018) “Strengthening international regulations against trade in goods used for torture and the death penalty”. PACE Recommendation 2123 (2018) urges all 47 CoE member States to introduce legislation prohibiting trade in inherently abusive equipment, specifically including execution technologies and certain components; inhumane restraints; certain whips; and portable devices unsuitable for riot control or self-protection. Member states are also urged to regulate the trade in potentially legitimate security equipment that could however be misused; and to deny authorisation for trade in such goods “where there are reasonable grounds for believing that they might be used for capital punishment or torture [or ill-treatment] in a third country”.

The PACE Recommendation further calls on the Committee of Ministers to:

  • provide technical support for CoE Member states introducing national legislation addressing the trade in goods used for the death penalty and  “tools of torture”;
  • Provide “technical guidance on how to establish and implement an effective regulatory regime”. This would enable the extension of the existing regime covering part of the Council of Europe (i.e. the European Union) to the whole Council of Europe region.

In order to encourage and inform consideration of these issues amongst relevant Council of Europe bodies- notably the Committee of Ministers and its Steering Committee on Human Rights – the Omega Research Foundation has released a revised version of its January 2018 report: Manufacture, trade and use of ‘tools of torture’ in the Council of Europe. This revised report provides extensive information on the contemporary development, manufacture, promotion and trade by companies based in Council of Europe (CoE) member States of law enforcement equipment that can be readily employed for torture, ill-treatment or the death penalty. The report includes case studies illustrating how such equipment has been employed in torture and ill-treatment within the CoE. It provides recommendations for CoE member States to introduce and/or strengthen measures to effectively regulate this trade within the CoE region.