Ahead of major security trade fair in Paris, UN torture rapporteur requests France to monitor exhibition for illegal torture tools

OHCHR

The UN Special Rapporteur on Torture contacted the French Government ahead of a major security and arms fair being held in Paris this week, to ensure that exhibitors do not promote illegal torture tools. Her intervention follows an earlier event, ” Milipol Paris “, held in November 2023, where it was discovered that French and foreign companies were promoting equipment deemed to be inherently cruel, inhuman or degrading.

“The trade in torture tools is barbarous and must be limited as a matter of great urgency”, said UN Special Rapporteur on Torture, Alice Jill Edwards. “At Milipol Paris late last year items considered illegal under European Union legislation were observed in the marketing materials of four foreign companies. These included spiked batons, thumbcuffs, leg fetters, leg fetters with attached handcuffs and spiked arm guards.”

“Other equipment that I have announced as falling into my banned list of law enforcement equipment and weapons were also being marketed for sale by companies of French and foreign registration.”

These items included direct contact electric shock stun guns, stun batons and stun gloves, ammunition containing multiple kinetic impact projectiles (KIPs), and multi-barrel KIP launchers.

The UN expert’s communication with France came at the start of Eurosatory 2024, an event expecting 2,000 exhibitors from 62 different countries, and 62,000 visitors from all over the world.

“Devices that were on sale at Milipol Paris can easily puncture the skin, they can risk damaging the fine bones of the hands, and they can electrocute at the touch of a button. There is no place in the modern era for devices that cause such human suffering”, said Edwards.

“Last year I presented a list of items being used by law enforcement and other public authorities which I consider to be in violation of the international prohibition on torture, to the UN General Assembly. I have called for them to be removed from sale, use and production.”

The Special Rapporteur noted that the Republic of France has led the way in ensuring a ban of many of the items on her prohibited list, and that the State has also been a staunch supporter of her call for an international human rights instrument to regulate the use, production, promotion, financing and trade in equipment used by law enforcement and other public authorities and which risks inflicting forms of cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.

“I invite the French Government to continue to support and lobby for a global agreement for torture-free trade”, said the UN expert.

The Special Rapporteur has requested the French Government to explain the measures they have taken to prevent prohibited weapons and equipment being displayed or sold.

The ‘UN Special Rapporteur on Torture’s list of banned torture tools’ can be found in Annex 1 to her General Assembly report. She also produced a list of goods, which can be misused to inflict torture, and which should be regulated at national and international levels.

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