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Sustainable development | Brussels 29 June 2018

International meeting in Brussels to end trade in torture instruments

Representatives of the countries involved in the Alliance For Torture Free Trade are meeting today in Brussels to share expert information and exchange best practices related to the control of the trade in goods used for torture and capital punishment.

The Alliance was launched during the UN General Assembly, in September 2017 as joint initiative by the European Union Argentina and Mongolia, and comprises now already nearly 60 countries.

In her opening speech, Commissioner for Trade Cecilia Malmström reflected on the fact that trade policy cannot end torture by itself, but it can do its part in the broader fight. "I have long believed in using trade as a way to leverage change in the world. This is why we include provisions on the environment, human and labour rights, and other issues in our trade agreements. When it comes to fighting torture, trade can create an impact," she said.

The event is attended by a total number of 70 representatives from 38 different countries and the European Union, as well as non-governmental organisations working towards elimination of torture and defence of human rights worldwide. The Alliance aims to make it harder to trade in goods used for torture and capital punishment, to coordinate rules between countries and to exchange best practices.

The participating countries have committed themselves to several goals, including to control and restrict exports of items used for torture such as 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. They also committed to set up a platform for customs authorities to monitor trade flows and identify new products on the market, to put appropriate legislation in place and to exchange practices for its efficient enforcement.

The EU has in place since 2005 a tough legislation on trade in goods used for torture or the death penalty that has already reaped results. However, this legislation only applies in Europe. The Alliance is a way to prevent circumvention of existing rules, stop trade and restrict availability of such goods globally.


Speech by Commissioner Malmström

The Alliance For Torture Free Trade