The prohibition on torture and inhuman or degrading treatment is an absolute and non-derogable human right enshrined in Article 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights and numerous international conventions. Regulating the trade and promotion in Europe of security equipment which could facilitate torture is a key step in preventing it from occurring. In a Declaration on business and human rights dated 16 April 2014, the Committee of Ministers called on Council of Europe member States to ensure that “all business enterprises respect human rights throughout their operations, within and beyond their national jurisdictions.”
On 3 October 2016, the European Parliament voted to strengthen the existing Regulation (EC) 1236/2005 on trade in security equipment. The current prohibitions on trade of a wide range of items will now be extended to include a ban on advertising and promotion of such equipment and a ban on the brokering of trade deals between third countries. However, some loopholes have still not been addressed, particularly in relation to the provision of technical assistance and training.
According to civil society reports, security equipment with no practical use other than to inflict torture and the death penalty is still being manufactured, marketed and sold in some Council of Europe Member States. Those reports seek to implement standards to prevent this from occurring.
The Parliamentary Assembly should investigate and report on trade in security equipment in the member States of the Council of Europe, and subsequently develop appropriate rules to prevent the trade or brokering of equipment which could facilitate torture and the application of the death penalty.