19 June 2010
Action needed to stop horrific trade in torture instruments
North East Labour MEP Stephen Hughes has called on the European Commission to come down hard on countries which are failing to abide by EU rules designed to stop the trade in instruments of torture.
In a report approved by the European Parliament tthis week, Euro-MPs have hit out at a failure of some EU governments to prevent companies from exporting equipment that can be used for torture or other inhumane or degrading treatment.
The report comes soon after a dossier was published by Amnesty International showing how legal loopholes are being used to continue the sale of goods that should have been banned.
Stephen Hughes, a keen advocate of human rights, believes more must be done to ensure that EU-wide rules are adhered to: "The sorts of items that are getting through are truly horrifying. Thumb cuffs, leg restraints and equipment used to deliver massive electric shocks are just a few examples.
"I'm proud to say that the last Labour government led the way in cracking down on this despicable trade.
"The European Commission must do more to ensure that countries can't get away with avoiding both their legal and moral responsibility to act on this issue."
The Amnesty report highlighted a number of examples of countries issuing export licences for products that should be banned under the relevant EU regulation.
These included the Czech Republic, which allowed the export of shackles, electric shock weapons and chemical sprays to countries where it is known similar equipment had previously been used by police and security services for torture and other forms of ill-treatment.
Amnesty also said that Germany had issued similar licences for the export of foot-chains and chemical sprays.
The European Parliament today called on both EU governments and the European Commission to do more to ban this type of trade, including extending the list of banned items and requiring governments to make declarations about what penalties they impose on people or organisations who break the rules.
Stephen Hughes added: "It was a major achievement to get these rules in place - but they will only help combat ill-treatment if governments abide by them.
"EU countries must not be complicit in the horrific trade of instruments whose only purpose is to cause harm and pain."
For more information please call Cyndi Beaver, Office of Stephen Hughes MEP on 07764198400