BRUSSELS – Companies in the European Union are exporting equipment used for torture despite existing legislation that is aimed at preventing such exports.
A report published by Amnesty International and the Omega Research Foundation is detailing the claims. The report says that companies in the Czech Republic and Germany are among the export offenders.
The report further says that their products are being sold to at least nine countries in which Amnesty International has documented the use of such instruments although the European Union has passed a law in 2006 banning the international trade in policing and security equipment designed for torture.
The items available for export include fixed wall restrains, metal thumb cuffs, spiked batons as well as sleeves and cuffs that can deliver electric shocks of up to 50,000 volts.
Other devices are electric shock stun belts that are placed on already restrained prisoners and they deliver electric shocks to limbs or the kidney at the touch of a remote control activated button.
According to the report, between 2006 and 2009, the Czech Republic issued export permits for foot or hand shackles, electric shock tools, and chemical sprays to six countries where police and security forces had previously used such equipment for torture.
The countries are: Georgia, Moldova, Mongolia, Pakistan, Senegal and Cameroon. Germany had issued export permits for foot-chains and chemical sprays to China, India, Pakistan, and the United Arab Emirates.
The United States has used leg irons and leg cuffs on prisoners held in Afghanistan and Guantanamo bay. While Spain and Britain have banned the export of leg irons, leg cuff and gang chains, companies based in other European Union states appear to have been selling some of these instruments. Spain and Italy promoted for sale electrical cuffs and sleeves with a 50,000 volt shock for use on prisoners.
Companies in Finland, Italy, and Belgium have stated openly that they export equipment covered by the 2006 regulations.
Furthermore, the report also points out that some European Union member states are themselves using devices which are meant to cause pain to prisoners.
In the Czech Republic, restraints have been used to chain detainees to a wall or fixed object even though the European Council has deemed the practice a "totally unacceptable".
'Eltraf Bis', a polish company, has also sold handcuffs intended to be connected to walls. European Union regulations require EU governments to produce an annual report giving details of applications from traders to sell their torture equipment. Only seven countries have done so. These are: Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Germany, Lithuania, Slovenia, Britain and Spain.