European Union External Action

EU launches Alliance for Torture-Free Trade

torture eu trade

The European Union, together with Argentina and Mongolia, on 18 September launched an initiative aiming to end the trade in goods used for capital punishment and torture during United Nations General Assembly week in New York. The Alliance was announced in Brussels on 7 September and formally launched Monday with 58 participating countries from around the world – including all 28 EU Member States.

The Alliance for Torture-Free Trade is a global effort by countries from all over the world to stop the trade in goods used for torture and the death penalty. International law bans torture in all circumstances. Yet despite this, tools of death and pain are still traded across the globe. These include batons with metal spikes, electric shock belts, and grabbers that seize people by the waist or limb 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. We should never permit that they are traded like any other commodity. It's time for concrete action to shut down this despicable trade," said EU Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmström.

By signing up to the Alliance, countries will be agreeing to the four action points:

Take measures to control and 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.

The EU is committed to protecting human rights, and to the fight against torture and the abolition of the death penalty. The EU's tough legislation on trade in goods used for torture or the death penalty has already reaped results. Partly as a consequence of tougher EU rules, drugs for lethal injections have become more difficult to get and more expensive to buy.

But EU legislation only applies in Europe. Producers and traders of these goods try to circumvent EU laws, so the more countries that commit themselves to banning their export, the more effective efforts will be to put an end to the trade. The Alliance is a way to take concrete action and specific steps to stop the trade in such goods globally, making it significantly more difficult to obtain them.