Ludford: EU must clamp down on torture goods trade

Baroness Sarah Ludford MEPLiberal Democrat European justice & human rights spokeswoman and London MEP Sarah Ludford has called for tougher EU laws on the trade in instruments used in torture, repression and the death penalty, including drugs used in executions.

An Amnesty International report today, marking this week’s International Day against Torture, shows that torture instruments such as electric-shock belts are being marketed by EU companies while spiked batons are being promoted for sale in the EU and the sale of thumbscrews and leg irons is not banned.

The report follows a successful campaign last year – which Sarah co-led – to close loopholes under which ‘dual-use’ pharmaceuticals which do have a legitimate medicinal use were in fact being exported for illegitimate use as paralytic agents in executions.

Sarah Ludford commented:

“The 2005 law was a landmark for its unprecedented binding trade controls on equipment that could be used to hurt and harm people. But the unacceptable sale or promotion of items like thumbscrews, leg irons and electric shock devices is still happening.”

“If the EU’s lead on human rights is to be preserved, the current review must result in changes. The European Commission and EU states need to both enforce existing law effectively and if necessary strengthen it.”

“The only way to fully ensure an end to this shameful trade is to introduce a ‘torture and death penalty end-use’ clause so that even a product not listed can be banned from sale to a particular end-user who intends torture or execution.”

Notes to Editors

The Amnesty International report ‘No More Delays: Putting An End to the EU Trade in “Tools Of Torture” can be seen here:

The 2005 EU law is in Council Regulation (EC) No 1236/2005 of 27 June 2005, the first ever multilateral trade controls on such equipment. The European Parliament passed a resolution 2 years ago calling for controls to be tightened, see

Sarah Ludford’s press release on the death penalty drug success can be seen here:


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