Omega is a UK-based non-governmental research organisation, working to protect human rights and prevent grave human rights violations, including torture and other ill-treatment.
Omega works to stop military, security, and policing (MSP) technologies and techniques being used to commit human rights or humanitarian law violations. It is often the case that these violations are perpetrated against people who are already marginalised in our societies, and our work is informed by, and contributes to, the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals. As a registered charity, our work relies on your generous support.
Established in 1990, our years of specialist research and investigation have generated an unrivalled source of evidence on the manufacture and trade of equipment used for torture and repression. Our expertise encompasses small arms and light weapons as well as large weapon systems, surveillance technologies, and a wide range of law enforcement equipment and vehicles. Your support can aid our efforts to share and use this information, helping us to reach more people and organisations, and further prevent human rights violations, including torture, ill-treatment, and excessive use of force, and to help hold those responsible for abuses to account.
We seek to end the manufacture and trade of inherently abusive weapons, such as batons with metal spikes, which have no lawful use. We also strive to strengthen controls on other weapons that are frequently used for oppression and human rights violations, including torture and ill-treatment, such as batons, handcuffs, and tear gas. We strive to increase transparency and improve controls on the trade of MSP equipment worldwide. We use our unique expertise on MSP technologies to promote the strengthening of use of force standards and their application.
Through our work, we uncover evidence highlighting loopholes or breaches of trade laws, and we identify the weapons and equipment used in specific cases of abuse. We collaborate with and provide training to a range of partners, and share our findings with the media, partners, legal professionals and national, regional, and international human rights bodies, including the United Nations and Council of Europe. For instance, we are regularly approached to provide identifications of weapons and equipment that have been used in human rights violations. We also carry out educational and training activities to promote international human rights standards and facilitate their implementation. Our work underpins campaigns to control the trade in equipment used for repression, force governments to change laws, hold corporations and individuals to account, and secure justice for survivors of torture.
Some of Omega’s recent publications examine the use of instruments of restraint in the courtroom (published with the Brazilian Conselho Nacional de Justiça), assess the European Union’s Anti-Torture Regulation, and, with Amnesty International, the contribute to UN process to develop international controls on the trade in the tools of torture. We’ve produced reports that have helped to change laws governing the trade in weapons and equipment for torture and repression.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, we began tracking and recording cases of excessive use of force in the implementation and policing of COVID containment and lockdown measures. We have documented the increased risk posed by certain weapons during the pandemic, and we’ve published a position paper on the use of chemical irritants during COVID-19. At a time when human rights are under threat and we’ve seen authorities using the pandemic as a pretext to violate human rights, our ongoing monitoring work continues to be vital.
We can only continue our work with the generosity of individual supporters and grants from trusts and other human rights funders. Omega will never accept any funding from the industry we research or from companies or organisations that could compromise our independence.
Donations from individuals are incredibly important to us. Regular donations help us plan our future programmes of work in a sustainable and effective manner, but we appreciate any and all levels of support.
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If you would like any further information or to discuss your support for Omega, please contact us.