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Council of Europe: PACE calls for ban on trade in items used in executions or torture

On 26 January 2018, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) has called for a ban on trade in items used in executions or torture – urging all 47 Council of Europe member States to apply the approach of the EU, which bans some items and operates a case-by-case licensing system for others.

In a recommendation to the Council of Europe’s governmental body, based on a report by Vusal Huseynov (Azerbaijan, European People’s Party, EPP), the Assembly said it was concerned that such a trade “continues to take place” in some Council of Europe member States.

The report on “Strengthening international regulations against trade in goods used for torture and the death penalty”, according to Vusal Huseynov, has a huge potential to enforce the absolute prohibition of torture and inhuman or degrading treatments, present in all international documents, including the European Convention of Human Rights (CEDU), the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and the UN Convention Against Torture (CAT). This prohibition is so strict that would require States to take measures to prevent such violations happening in 3rd countries.

Although it is not possible to directly intervene to abolish the death penalty and torture in non-european countries, at least it is necessary to not supply the tools that can be used to torture and execute.

The report lists leg-irons, electro-shock weapons and chemical irritant devices, “thumbcuffs”, spiked batons and shields, weighted restraints and wall or ceiling cuffs among items that could be regulated.

Some items – such as those “which have no practical use other than for the purposes of the death penalty or torture” – should be banned outright, the Assembly said. Others, designed for legitimate use by police or security services but which could be abused to carry out torture, should require authorisation.

The  ministerial body of the Council of Europe (CoE) will now consider the Assembly’s recommendation.

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