MEPs say NO to torture

The United Nations International Day Against Torture takes place every year June 26.

It was back in 2006 that EU rules restricting the trade of torture tools was introduced. However, the legislation remains unimplemented or only partly implemented in several European countries.

Speaking in the debate, the Chair of Parliament’s Human Rights Sub-Committee Heidi Hautala said, torture tools are still used by police and security officers and that is not normal.

One of the main objectives of the EU human rights policy is exactly the prevention and the eradication of all forms of torture and ill-treatment within the EU and worldwide.

Torture and the EU

The EU Guidelines on Torture (2001)
Article 4 of Fundamental Rights Charter of the EU bans torture and ill-treatment
Article 3 of the Council of Europe Convention on the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms
As Members of the Council of Europe, EU Member States have all ratified the European Convention for the Prevention of Torture
In order to fight against the trade in goods that could be used for torture, the resolution urges EU countries to send reports about the number of (licence) applications received, the items involved and countries of destination for each application, as well as the decisions made on each of these applications, and reports of null activity if applicable.

It also calls for proper penalties if rules are broken.

Legal loopholes in existing rules

The resolution also draws attention to several legal loopholes in the regulation as the list of prohibited instruments doesn’t include spiked batons (sting sticks), thumb-cuffs, thumbscrews, wall restraints or electric shock devices.

Foreign Affairs Committee Chair Gabriele Albertini said the human imagination sometimes is quite creative when it comes to inflicting hardship on others. Thus, it is essential to keep pace with technological developments in this sad matter.

During the debate, the EU High Representative Catherine Ashton said any shortcomings in the implementation of the Regulation must - and will - be addressed. She said Amnesty International and the Omega Research Foundation will present their findings to a meeting with member states later this month.

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