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Procedure : 2010/2685(RSP)
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Texts tabled :

RC-B7-0360/2010

Debates :

PV 16/06/2010 - 13
CRE 16/06/2010 - 13

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PV 17/06/2010 - 7.12
Explanations of votes

Texts adopted :

P7_TA(2010)0236

Texts adopted
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Thursday, 17 June 2010 - Strasbourg Final edition
Trade in goods used for torture
P7_TA(2010)0236B7-0360, 0363, 0365, 0368 and 0369/2010

European Parliament resolution of 17 June 2010 on implementation of Council Regulation (EC) No 1236/2005 concerning trade in certain goods which could be used for capital punishment, torture or other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment

The European Parliament ,

–  having regard to the absolute prohibition of torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, a prohibition which applies in all circumstances and, as a peremptory norm in international law, to all states,

–  having regard to the articulation of this prohibition in a number of international and regional human rights instruments and documents, including the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), the United Nations Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (Convention against Torture), the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, and the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union,

–  having regard to the European Parliament Resolution of 3 October 2001(1) urging the Commission to act swiftly to bring forward an appropriate Community instrument banning the promotion, trade and export of police and security equipment the use of which is inherently cruel, inhuman or degrading,

–  having regard to Council Regulation (EC) No 1236/2005 of 27 June 2005 concerning trade in certain goods which could be used for capital punishment, torture or other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment(2) , which came into force on 30 July 2006,

–  having regard to the Guidelines to EU policy towards third countries on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, adopted in 2001 and reviewed in 2008,

–  having regard to the 2008 report of the Council General Secretariat on implementation of the EU Guidelines on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment,

–  having regard to activity in other countries following the development of Council Regulation (EC) No 1236/2005, particularly amendments to US export control law proposed by the US Bureau of Industry and Security in August 2009 which mirror and in some cases go beyond some of those contained in Council Regulation (EC) No 1236/2005,

–  having regard to the Memorandum of Understanding between the Council of Europe and the European Union, which invites the Committee for the Prevention of Torture of the Council of Europe to reinforce its cooperation with relevant institutions of the Union, and the 17th General Report on the activities of the Committee for the Prevention of Torture (CPT), which calls for the Council of Europe to consider the role that the CPT might play as regards implementation of Council Regulation (EC) No 1236/2005,

–  having regard to the reports published by Amnesty International and the Omega Research Foundation in 2007 and 2010 highlighting particular weaknesses in Council Regulation (EC) No 1236/2005 and expressing concern about the inadequate implementation of the Regulation by some European Union Member States,

–  having regard to Rule 115(5) of its Rules of Procedure,

A.  whereas the Convention against Torture imposes specific obligations on states to prevent torture and other ill-treatment, to investigate its occurrences, to bring to justice the perpetrators and to provide reparations to the victims,

B.  whereas despite such obligations, torture or other ill-treatment is still perpetrated throughout the world, and a wide range of policing and security equipment has been utilised for such practices,

C.  whereas the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture asserts that controlling trade in such equipment forms part of every state's obligations under the UN Convention Against Torture,

D.  whereas the Guidelines to EU policy towards third countries on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment state that the EU will urge third countries to prevent the use, production and trade of equipment which is designed to inflict torture or other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment and prevent the abuse of any other equipment to these ends,

E.  whereas the 2008 report of the Council General Secretariat on EU actions in furtherance of commitments to combat torture and other ill-treatment in third countries states that ‘The adoption of the regulation on torture instruments is the first example of an EU regulation adopted in line with Human Rights guidelines. The United Nations Special Rapporteur on Torture has welcomed this step and expressed the view that it could serve as a model for a global regulation on this theme. This entails for the EU the need to assess the implementation of the regulation’,

F.  whereas since the entry into force of Council Regulation (EC) No 1236/2005 some European Union Member States have licensed exports of items including leg restraints, chemical irritants and electric-shock stun devices, controlled under the Regulation, to countries with a poor human rights record,

G.  whereas only twelve Member States introduced penalty legislation by 29 August 2006 as required by Article 17 of Council Regulation (EC) No 1236/2005,

H.  whereas only seven Member States have produced one or more of the public annual activity reports giving details of their licensing decisions as required under Article 13 of Council Regulation (EC) No 1236/2005,

I.  whereas Council Regulation (EC) No 1236/2005 allows the importation into European Union Member States of electric-shock body-worn restraint devices whose trade is not prohibited, although they are essentially similar in effect to electric-shock stun belts prohibited for import into the European Union by Council Regulation (EC) No 1236/2005, and whereas European-based companies have reportedly imported them into some Member States, according to reports by Amnesty International, the Omega Research Foundation and Inter-Press Service,

J.  whereas the list of items and equipment whose trade is prohibited by Council Regulation (EC) No 1236/2005 does not include some policing and security equipment, currently traded internationally, which either has no other practical use besides torture or other ill-treatment, including spiked batons, certain wall or floor restraints, certain leg restraints, finger-cuffs, thumb-cuffs, thumbscrews and body-worn electric-shock stun devices other than ‘stun belts’,

K.  whereas the list of items and equipment whose trade is controlled by Council Regulation (EC) No 1236/2005 does not include some policing and security equipment, currently traded internationally, which may have legitimate law enforcement or penal uses when its use is regulated in accordance with international human rights obligations and law enforcement best practice standards, but which is widely misused for torture or other ill-treatment, including handcuffs, batons and other hand-held impact devices, high-voltage electric-shock stun weapons operating below 10 000 volts, as well as specially designed components and accessories for controlled and prohibited equipment,

L.  whereas the Committee on Common Rules for Exports of Products is due to meet again on 29 June 2010,

1.  Calls on all Member States to inform the Commission immediately of the relevant penalties they have introduced for breaches of Council Regulation (EC) No 1236/2005, as they are obliged to do under Article 17 of the Regulation;

2.  Calls on the Commission and the Committee on Common Rules for Exports of Products to provide guidance and assistance to Member States to strengthen such penalties where they are insufficient or have not been introduced;

3.  Recalls the obligation of all Member States under Article 13(3) of Council Regulation (EC) No 1236/2005 to compile timely, public annual activity reports, and urges the Commission to write to Member States which have not supplied the Commission with such reports calling on them to comply with their obligations;

4.  Urges Member States, in order that their annual activity reports provide sufficient information for meaningful public oversight, to include at a minimum in such reports: the number of applications received, the items involved and countries of destination for each application, as well as the decisions made on each of these applications, and reports of ‘null activity’ if applicable;

5.  Urges the Commission to develop a model template for Member States' annual activity reports in order to facilitate the compilation of such reports by all Member States and to ensure their consistency;

6.  Urges the Commission to undertake a formal review, assisted by the Committee on Common Rules for Exports of Products (as empowered by Articles 15 and 16 of the Regulation) of Member States' implementation and licensing activity under the Regulation, including an examination of all Member States' annual activity reports, and to publish this review alongside the annual activity reports received from each Member State in each year since the Regulation entered into force;

7.  Urges Member States to ensure that the procedures highlighted under Article 13 of Council Regulation (EC) No 1236/2005 to share information between Member States and the Commission regarding licensing decisions and implementation measures, either through the denial notification mechanism already established for military export denials in COARM, or through other effective procedures, are properly implemented;

8.  Urges the Commission to inform Parliament of activities undertaken to date to facilitate Member States' fulfilment of Article 13;

9.  Requests the Commission to provide Parliament with, and to publish, the information it has received from each Member State in each year since the Regulation entered into force: specifically, notifications of dismissals of applications for authorisation under Article 11 of the Regulation; details of the relevant penalties which each Member State has introduced for breaches of the Regulation; and the full contents of Member States' annual activity reports;

10.  Urges the Commission and Member States to ensure that the Committee on Common Rules for Exports of Products meet on a regular basis, produce a clear timetable for a formal review of the Regulation, and establish a procedure for timely investigations into possible breaches of the Regulation;

11.  Calls on all Member States, in order to contribute to the prevention of torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, to monitor technical assistance to third countries in order to prevent this technical assistance from being misused for the production of goods for the purpose of capital punishment or torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment;

12.  Strongly condemns any attempts by Member States or companies within the European Union to import electric-shock stun belts whose import is prohibited by Council Regulation (EC) No 1236/2005, or other electric-shock body-worn restraint devices essentially similar in effect, although legal, and urges the Commission to conduct an urgent investigation to establish whether and when electric-shock stun belts or related parts, other electric-shock body-worn restraint devices, technical assistance or training have been transferred to any Member States prior to, or since, the introduction of the Regulation, to determine whether such devices have been deployed by any law enforcement or prison authorities in those countries and to report its findings to Parliament;

13.  Calls on the Commission to review and update the list of items prohibited under Annex II of Council Regulation (EC) No 1236/2005 to include spiked batons, fixed wall and floor restraints, leg irons, chains and shackles, thumb-cuffs, finger-cuffs and thumb-screws, stun-cuffs and other body-worn electric-shock stun devices;

14.  Calls on the Commission to review and update the list of items controlled under Annex III of Council Regulation (EC) No 1236/2005 to include handcuffs, batons and other hand-held impact devices, and portable electric-shock devices below 10 000 volts;

15.  Further calls on the Commission to establish a specific procedure to regularly review the lists of items in Annex II and Annex III as mandated in Article 23 of Council Regulation (EC) No 1236/2005;

16.  Urges the Commission to come forward with a proposal to insert into the Regulation as soon as practicable a ‘torture end-use’ clause, which would allow Member States, on the basis of prior information, to license and thus refuse the export of any items which pose a substantial risk of being used for capital punishment, torture or other ill-treatment by their destined end-users;

17.  Urges the Commission to come forward with a proposal to insert into the Regulation as soon as practicable a prohibition on the brokering of transactions by any European Union natural or legal person from any place involving international transfers that aims at funding trade in tools of torture, including sales and exports of items with no practical use other than for capital punishment, torture or other ill-treatment, as included in Annex II of the Regulation, and requiring Member States to introduce effective mechanisms to control the brokering of transactions involving transfers of any items listed in Annex III of the Regulation;

18.  Urges the Commission to come forward with a proposal to insert into the Regulation as soon as practicable a requirement for importers to obtain an import authorisation for the import of items listed in Annex III of the Regulation into the European Union, and for Member States to refuse such import authorisations where there are reasonable grounds to believe that such equipment might be used for torture or other ill-treatment either within the European Union or once further traded outside the European Union;

19.  Urges the Commission to consider means of removing the exemption from the requirement of import or export authorisations for Annex III items transiting through the European Union;

20.  Recalls the 2008 update to the Guidelines to EU policy towards third countries on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, and calls on the Council and Commission in accordance with these Guidelines to promote Council Regulation (EC) No 1236/2005 as an example of best practice in meetings with third countries and to encourage third countries which export equipment whose import is prohibited by Council Regulation (EC) No 1236/2005 to make traders in those countries aware of the Regulation's prohibitions;

21.  Urges the Commission and Member States to promote international trade controls on equipment that could be used for capital punishment, torture and other ill-treatment at an international level, and particularly to work to expand the UN General Assembly's annual call ‘to prevent and prohibit the production, trade, export and use of equipment that is specifically designed to inflict torture’, so as also to call on all states to regulate the production, trade, export and use of equipment that is not specifically designed but is widely misused in order to inflict torture or other ill-treatment;

22.  Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council, the Commission and the governments of the Member States.

(1) OJ C 87 E, 11.4.2002, p. 136.
(2) OJ L 200, 30.7.2005, p. 1.

Last updated: 14 July 2011Legal notice