Members' Research Service By / February 14, 2017

Fighting trade in tools for torture and executions [EU Legislation in Progress]

Written by Ionel Zamfir (3rd edition), The EU is committed to fighting torture and use of the death penalty throughout…

© Asmus Koefoed / Fotolia

Written by Ionel Zamfir (3rd edition),

Old chains or shackles used for locking up prisoners or slaves
© Asmus Koefoed / Fotolia

The EU is committed to fighting torture and use of the death penalty throughout the world. Both phenomena continue to afflict a significant number of countries, and trade in torture tools is booming. One of the most important measures taken by the EU has been its 2005 Regulation imposing restrictions in trade in torture tools. Despite some visible effects, it has been repeatedly criticised for loopholes which allow trade in goods that could be used for torture, executions and other ill-treatment, as well as related activities like brokering or advertising such goods to continue.

Responding to a 2010 European Parliament resolution, the European Commission adopted a legislative proposal to amend the Regulation in 2014. The proposal was criticised by civil society organisations fighting torture since it did not address all potential loopholes. The EP’s International Trade Committee proposed several amendments aiming to further restrict the trade in torture tools and the provision of related services. The final compromise text, agreed after three trilogue meetings, reflected most of INTA’s proposals, albeit with certain modifications. It was adopted by the EP and the Council as such, entering into force in December 2016.



Proposal for a regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council amending 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
Committee responsible:


International Trade (INTA)

Marietje Schaake, ALDE, The Netherlands

COM(2014) 1 final of 14.01.2014

procedure ref.: 2014/0005(COD)

Ordinary legislative procedure

Procedure completed Regulation (EU) 2016/2134

OJ L 338, 13.12.2016, p. 1

Stage: adoption


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