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Europe’s Torture Exports

A report printed in March 2010 by Amnesty International and the Omega Analysis Foundation and titled “From Words to Deeds” accused European corporations of manufacturing and promoting “tools of tortur…

A report revealed in March 2010 by Amnesty International and the Omega Analysis Foundation and titled “From Words to Deeds” accused European firms of manufacturing and promoting “tools of torture”. Among these were fastened wall restraints, steel “thumb-cuffs”, and electroshock “sleeves” and “cuffs” that ship 50,000V shocks.

These commercial actions run contra to a 2006 EU-huge laws which bans (and, for some sorts of equipment, merely regulates) the sale of policing and safety implements and gadgets that can be utilized to torture and maim. But the regulation remains a useless letter in many international locations in the Union.

Brian Wood, Amnesty International’s Army Safety and Police manager instructed the media:
“Our research shows that regardless of the brand new controls, several Member States, including Germany and the Czech Republic, have since 2006 authorized exports of policing weapons and restraints to at the least nine countries where Amnesty Worldwide has documented the usage of such equipment in torture … Furthermore, solely seven states have fulfilled their authorized obligations to publicly report their exports below the Regulation. We worry that some states should not taking their legal obligations seriously.”

Among the findings of the report:
The Czech Republic has issued licenses to export shackles, electric shock weapons and chemical sprays to six international locations whose police and security forces are recognized offenders towards human rights and have made use of precisely such objects to torture detainees; Germany allowed the export of foot-chains and chemical sprays to three such international locations; Gear manufacturers in Italy and Spain bought “law enforcement” 50,000V electric shock restraints (“cuffs” or “sleeves”). The EU bans the buying and selling of nearly similar electric “stun belts” however this prohibition did not deter one other EU Member State – Hungary – from introducing them in its prisons and police stations.

5 Member States said that there aren’t any producers (Belgium, Cyprus, Italy, Finland, Malta) or exporters (Belgium, Cyprus, Italy) of such tools in their territories. Not less than three of them – Finland, Italy and Belgium – lied: companies in these countries deal with such materiel brazenly and even maintain on-line gross sales catalogues of their very own products or torture instruments manufactured in different – largely creating – nations.

On January 16, 2003, the European Court of Human Rights agreed – greater than two years after the purposes have been filed – to listen to six instances filed by Chechens towards Russia. The claimants accuse the Russian navy of torture and indiscriminate killings. The Court has dominated up to now against the Russian Federation and awarded assorted plaintiffs thousands of euros per case in compensation.

As awareness of human rights elevated, as their definition expanded and as new, typically authoritarian polities, resorted to torture and repression – human rights advocates and non-governmental organizations proliferated. It has develop into a enterprise in its personal proper: legal professionals, consultants, psychologists, therapists, law enforcement agencies, students and pundits tirelessly peddle books, seminars, conferences, therapy sessions for victims, court docket appearances and different services.

Human rights activists target primarily international locations and multinationals.
In June 2001, the Worldwide Labour Rights Fund filed a lawsuit on behalf of eleven villagers towards the American oil behemoth, ExxonMobil, for “abetting” abuses in Aceh, Indonesia. They alleged that the company offered the army with equipment for digging mass graves and helped in the development of interrogation and torture centres.

In November 2002, the legislation firm of Cohen, Milstein, Hausfeld & Toll joined different American and South African regulation companies in filing a complaint that “seeks to carry businesses answerable for aiding and abetting the apartheid regime in South Africa … forced labour, genocide, extrajudicial killing, torture, sexual assault, and unlawful detention”.

Among the many accused: “IBM and ICL which supplied the computers that enabled South Africa to … management the black South African population. Automotive manufacturers offered the armoured automobiles that had been used to patrol the townships. Arms manufacturers violated the embargoes on gross sales to South Africa, as did the oil corporations. The banks offered the funding that enabled South Africa to increase its police and safety apparatus.”

Costs were levelled against Unocal in Myanmar and dozens of different multinationals. In September 2002, Berger & Montague filed a class motion complaint in opposition to Royal Dutch Petroleum and Shell Transport. The oil giants are charged with “purchasing ammunition and using … helicopters and boats and offering logistical assist for ‘Operation Restore Order in Ogoniland'” which barrel of oil breakdown was designed, based on the legislation firm, to “terrorize the civilian inhabitants into ending peaceful protests against Shell’s environmentally unsound oil exploration and extraction actions”.

The defendants in all these court instances strongly deny any wrongdoing.
However that is merely one aspect of the torture business.

Torture implements are produced – mostly in the West – and offered overtly, continuously to nasty regimes in growing countries and even by means of the Internet. Hello-tech devices abound: sophisticated electroconvulsive stun guns, painful restraints, fact serums, chemicals reminiscent of pepper gasoline. Export licensing is universally minimal and non-intrusive and completely ignores the technical specifications of the products (as an example, whether or not they could be lethal, or merely inflict ache).

Amnesty Worldwide and the UK-based Omega Basis, found greater than a hundred and fifty manufacturers of stun guns in the USA alone. They face tough competitors from Germany (30 companies), Taiwan (19), France (14), South Korea (thirteen), China (12), South Africa (9), Israel (eight), Mexico (six), Poland (four), Russia (4), Brazil (three), Spain (three) and the Czech Republic (two).

Many torture implements cross through “off-shore” provide networks in Austria, Canada, Indonesia, Kuwait, Lebanon, Lithuania, Macedonia, Albania, Russia, Israel, the Philippines, Romania and Turkey. This helps European Union primarily based companies circumvent legal bans at home. The US government has traditionally turned a blind eye to the international buying and selling of such gadgets.

American high-voltage electro-shock stun shields turned up in Turkey, stun guns in Indonesia, and electro-shock batons and shields, and dart-firing taser guns in torture-prone Saudi Arabia. American corporations are the dominant manufacturers of stun belts. Explains Dennis Kaufman, President of Stun Tech Inc, a US producer of this innovation: ”Electricity speaks each language recognized to man. No translation obligatory. Everyone is afraid of electricity, and rightfully so.” (Quoted by Amnesty Worldwide).

The Omega Basis and Amnesty declare that forty nine US corporations are additionally major suppliers of mechanical restraints, barrel of oil breakdown including leg-irons and thumbcuffs. However they don’t seem to be alone. Other suppliers are found in Germany (eight), France (5), China (three), Taiwan (three), South Africa (2), Spain (2), the UK (2) and South Korea (1).

Not surprisingly, the Commerce Department doesn’t keep tab on this category of exports.
Nor is the money sloshing round negligible. Data kept beneath the export management commodity number A985 present that Saudi Arabia alone spent within the United States more barrel of oil breakdown than $1 million a year between 1997-2000 merely on stun guns. Venezuela’s invoice for shock batons and such reached $3.7 million in the identical interval. Different purchasers included Hong Kong, Taiwan, Mexico and – surprisingly – Bulgaria. Egypt’s notoriously brutal providers – already properly-outfitted – spent a mere $forty,000.

The United States is just not the only wrongdoer. The European Fee, in line with an Amnesty Worldwide report titled “Stopping the Torture Trade” and printed in 2001:

“Gave a high quality award to a Taiwanese electro-shock baton, however when challenged could not cite evidence as to unbiased security assessments for such a baton or whether or not member states of the European Union (EU) had been consulted. Most EU states have banned the use of such weapons at home, however French and German firms are still allowed to produce them to different international locations.”

Torture expertise is broadly proffered by former troopers, agents of the safety services made redundant, retired policemen and even rogue medical docs. China, Israel, South Africa, France, Russia, the United Kingdom and the United States are founts of such useful data and its propagators.

How rooted torture is was revealed in September 1996 when the US Department of Defence admitted that ”intelligence coaching manuals” were used in the Federally sponsored Faculty of the Americas – one in every of a hundred and fifty such facilities – between 1982 and 1991.The manuals, written in Spanish and used to prepare thousands of Latin American safety agents, “advocated execution, torture, beatings and blackmail”, says Amnesty Worldwide.

Where there is demand there may be supply. Fairly than ignore the discomfiting subject, governments would do properly to legalize and supervise it. Alan Dershowitz, a outstanding American criminal defence attorney, proposed, in an op-ed article within the Los Angeles Times, revealed November 8, 2001, to legalize torture in excessive instances and to have judges concern “torture warrants”. This could also be a radical departure from the human rights tradition of the civilized world. However dispensing export rigorously reviewed licenses for twin-use implements is a special matter altogether – and long overdue.