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Europe’s Torture Exports

A report published in March 2010 by Amnesty International and the Omega Analysis Basis and titled “From Phrases to Deeds” accused European companies of manufacturing and promoting “tools of tortur…

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

These commercial activities run contra to a 2006 EU-broad legislation which bans (and, for some types of tools, merely regulates) the sale of policing and security implements and units that can be utilized to torture and maim. However the legislation remains a lifeless letter in lots of international locations in the Union.

Brian Wooden, Amnesty Worldwide’s Navy Safety and Police manager instructed the media:
“Our analysis exhibits that despite the brand new controls, several Member States, together with Germany and the Czech Republic, have since 2006 authorized exports of policing weapons and restraints to a minimum of nine countries where Amnesty Worldwide has documented the use of such tools in torture … Moreover, solely seven states have fulfilled their legal obligations to publicly report their exports below the Regulation. We fear that some states aren’t taking their authorized obligations seriously.”

Among the many findings of the report:
The Czech Republic has issued licenses to export shackles, electric shock weapons and chemical sprays to six countries whose police and security forces are recognized offenders against human rights and have made use of exactly such gadgets to torture detainees; Germany allowed the export of foot-chains and chemical sprays to a few such countries; 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 identical electric “stun belts” however this prohibition did not deter another EU Member State – Hungary – from introducing them in its prisons and police stations.

5 Member States stated that there aren’t any producers (Belgium, Cyprus, Italy, Finland, Malta) or exporters (Belgium, Cyprus, Italy) of such tools in their territories. At least three of them – Finland, Italy and Belgium – lied: firms in these nations deal with such materiel overtly and even maintain online sales catalogues of their very own merchandise or torture devices manufactured in other – largely creating – international locations.

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

As awareness of human rights increased, as their definition expanded and as new, often authoritarian polities, resorted to torture and repression – human rights advocates and non-governmental organizations proliferated. It has turn out to be a enterprise in its own proper: attorneys, consultants, psychologists, therapists, law enforcement businesses, scholars and pundits tirelessly peddle books, seminars, conferences, therapy periods for victims, court appearances and different companies.

Human rights activists goal mainly international locations and multinationals.
In June 2001, the International Labour Rights Fund filed a lawsuit on behalf of eleven villagers in opposition to 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 construction of interrogation and torture centres.

In November 2002, the legislation agency of Cohen, Milstein, Hausfeld & Toll joined other American and South African legislation corporations in filing a complaint that “seeks to carry companies responsible for aiding and petroleum equipment trade show video abetting the apartheid regime in South Africa … forced labour, genocide, extrajudicial killing, torture, sexual assault, and unlawful detention”.

Among the accused: “IBM and ICL which offered the computer systems that enabled South Africa to … management the black South African population. Car manufacturers supplied the armoured vehicles that had been used to patrol the townships. Arms manufacturers violated the embargoes on gross sales to South Africa, as did the oil companies. The banks supplied the funding that enabled South Africa to develop its police and security apparatus.”

Prices were levelled in opposition to 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 utilizing … helicopters and boats and offering logistical help for ‘Operation Restore Order in Ogoniland'” which was designed, in response to the legislation agency, to “terrorize the civilian inhabitants into ending peaceful protests against Shell’s environmentally unsound oil exploration and extraction activities”.

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

Torture implements are produced – principally in the West – and sold openly, often to nasty regimes in creating countries and even by the Internet. Hi-tech gadgets abound: refined electroconvulsive stun guns, painful restraints, reality serums, chemicals resembling pepper gas. Export licensing is universally minimal and non-intrusive and completely ignores the technical specifications of the goods (for instance, whether they might be lethal, or merely inflict pain).

Amnesty Worldwide and the UK-primarily based Omega Foundation, discovered greater than a hundred and fifty manufacturers of stun guns within the USA alone. They face powerful competition from Germany (30 corporations), Taiwan (19), France (14), South Korea (13), China (12), South Africa (nine), Israel (eight), Mexico (six), Poland (4), Russia (4), Brazil (three), Spain (three) and the Czech Republic (two).

Many torture implements pass by means of “off-shore” supply networks in Austria, Canada, Indonesia, Kuwait, Lebanon, Lithuania, Macedonia, Albania, Russia, Israel, the Philippines, Romania and Turkey. This helps European Union primarily based corporations circumvent authorized bans at residence. The US government has traditionally turned a blind eye to the international trading of such devices.

American high-voltage electro-shock stun shields turned up in Turkey, stun petroleum equipment trade show video 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 identified to man. No translation essential. All people is afraid of electricity, and rightfully so.” (Quoted by Amnesty Worldwide).

The Omega Foundation and Amnesty declare that forty nine US corporations are also major suppliers of mechanical restraints, including leg-irons and thumbcuffs. But they aren’t alone. Other suppliers are present in Germany (8), France (5), China (3), Taiwan (3), South Africa (2), Spain (2), the UK (2) and South Korea (1).

Not surprisingly, the Commerce Division would not keep tab on this category of exports.
Nor is the cash sloshing around negligible. Information saved underneath the export management commodity quantity A985 present that Saudi Arabia alone spent within the United States greater than $1 million a year between 1997-2000 merely on stun guns. Venezuela’s invoice for shock batons and such reached $three.7 million in the same interval. Other shoppers included Hong Kong, Taiwan, Mexico and – surprisingly – Bulgaria. Egypt’s notoriously brutal services – already properly-equipped – spent a mere $forty,000.

The United States will not be the one offender. The European Fee, based on an Amnesty International report titled “Stopping the Torture Commerce” and published in 2001:

“Gave a top quality award to a Taiwanese electro-shock baton, however when challenged could not cite proof as to independent 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 usage of such weapons at house, but French and German corporations are nonetheless allowed to provide them to different nations.”

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

How rooted torture is was revealed in September 1996 when the US Department of Defence admitted that ”intelligence training manuals” were used within the Federally sponsored Faculty of the Americas – one among one hundred fifty such services – 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 International.

The place there may be demand there is supply. Rather than ignore the discomfiting subject, governments would do effectively to legalize and supervise it. Alan Dershowitz, a outstanding American criminal defence attorney, proposed, in an op-ed article in the Los Angeles Instances, revealed November 8, 2001, to legalize torture in extreme cases and to have judges concern “torture warrants”. This could also be a radical departure from the human rights tradition of the civilized world. But dispensing export fastidiously reviewed licenses for dual-use implements is a special matter altogether – and lengthy overdue.