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Sustainable development | New York, 18 September 2017

58 countries join forces to stop trade in goods used for torture & death penalty

EU Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmström was in New York to launch the international Alliance for Torture-Free Trade during the United Nations General Assembly Ministerial Week. The initiative – a joint effort by the European Union, Argentina and Mongolia, with a total of 58 participating countries – aims to stop the trade in goods used to carry out the death penalty and to commit torture.

International law bans torture in all circumstances. Despite this, tools of death and pain are still traded across the globe. These include batons with metal spikes, electric shock belts, grabbers that seize people while electrocuting them, chemicals used to execute people and the forced injection systems that go with them.

These products serve no other purpose than inflicting terrible pain and killing people. Now, we are taking concrete action to shut down this despicable trade. I am thrilled that so many countries around the globe have signed up to the joint Declaration and joined this Alliance. By standing together, we demonstrate that we will not tolerate this trade any longer,” said European Union Commissioner for Trade Cecilia Malmström.

Monday's launch saw 58 countries from all over the world – Africa and the Americas, Europe and Asia – adopting a joint political declaration. By signing up to the Alliance, countries have agreed to four action points:

  • Take measures to control and to restrict exports of these goods;
  • Equip customs authorities with appropriate tools. The Alliance will set up a platform to monitor trade flows, exchange information, and identify new products;
  • Make technical assistance available to help countries with setting up and implementing laws to ban this trade;
  • Exchange practices for efficient control and enforcement systems.

Partly as a consequence of tougher rules in the EU and elsewhere, drugs for lethal injections and torture goods have become more difficult to get and more expensive to buy. However, producers and traders of these goods try to circumvent such laws, so the more countries that commit themselves to banning these exports, the more effective efforts will be to put an end to the trade. The Alliance for Torture-Free Trade is a way to take specific steps to stop the trade in such goods globally, making it significantly more difficult to obtain them.

Alliance for Torture-Free Trade website

List of participating countries and joint declaration:
Political Declaration – Alliance on Torture-Free Trade

Photos from the launch event in New York with participants from each country

Photos of torture tools

Downloadable video clips from the event and speakers from each country (published Tuesday):

Full video of launch event

On Twitter: @TortureFree

Watch the video