The Pain Merchants. December 2003.

This report shows why the manufacture, use and transfer of security and police technologies needs to be strictly regulated by governments using common criteria.

Torture persists either because governments mistakenly think it serves their interests, or because governments are too weak to control the excesses of their security forces. All governments should honour their commitments to abolish torture under international human rights standards.

In this report Amnesty International has presented compelling evidence that a range of equipment ostensibly designed and promoted for security purposes - and often described as "less than lethal" - can easily result in unwarranted injuries or be used for torture or other cruel, inhumane or degrading treatment or punishment.

The effects of such equipment tend to be inadequately evaluated against international human rights standards for law enforcement. Avowals of its "safety" frequently rest solely on the claims of manufacturers regarding the immediate well being of users of the equipment. Even when governments claim to have rigorously evaluated a certain type of equipment or technology, the evaluation is often not open to public and scientific scrutiny.

This flawed process of “legitimising” new security devices and weaponry is compounded by the fact that much of the equipment can be extremely harmful if it is placed in the hands of those law enforcement officials who intend to abuse their position of authority to commit human rights violations and know that, in many cases, they act with impunity.