Help Print this page 
Title and reference
Ban on trade in torture instruments

Summaries of EU legislation: direct access to the main summaries page.
Multilingual display
Text

Ban on trade in torture instruments

The European Union (EU) is opposed to capital punishment, torture and other cruel and unusual punishment* in non-EU countries. For this reason, it bans the trade of certain types of equipment and products that could be used for such purposes like gallows, electric chairs and lethal injection systems.

ACT

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

SUMMARY

The European Union (EU) is opposed to capital punishment, torture and other cruel and unusual punishment* in non-EU countries. For this reason, it bans the trade of certain types of equipment and products that could be used for such purposes like gallows, electric chairs and lethal injection systems.

WHAT DOES THIS REGULATION DO?

It prohibits any export or import of goods that have no practical use other than for the purpose of capital punishment, torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment. It also establishes an authorisation system for the export of goods that could be used for such purposes.

KEY POINTS

EU countries’ authorities should distinguish between goods that have no practical use other than carrying out capital punishment or torture and goods that could be used for such purposes.

The goods covered by this regulation are listed in Annexes II and III. The European Commission may amend these lists as soon as new equipment appears on the market.

If the goods concerned are to be used in the country of destination for the purposes of public display in a museum, then the exporting EU country’s authorities can make an exemption to the prohibition.

In order for export authorisations to be denied, an EU country’s authorities must have good reason to believe that the goods could be used for the purposes of torture or other cruel or unusual punishment.

Export and import authorisations are issued using a form based on the model in Annex V. They are valid throughout the EU.

EU countries’ authorities may refuse to grant an export authorisation and cancel, suspend, amend or withdraw an authorisation that has already been granted.

If authorisation is not granted, the customs authorities keep the goods declared and draw attention to the option of applying for an authorisation. The goods are destroyed after 6 months if they have not received a request for authorisation.

If there is a decision rejecting a request for authorisation, an EU country’s authorities must notify all other EU countries and the European Commission.

EU countries must draw up annual activity reports, if possible with the help of the European Commission.

BACKGROUND

The absolute ban on torture and ill-treatment enshrined in core United Nations human rights conventions is reflected at the EU level in the Charter of Fundamental Rights, which states that ‘no one shall be subjected to torture or to inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment’. The charter also prohibits capital punishment.

KEY TERMS

*Unusual punishment: punishment causing pain, suffering or humiliation beyond the moral sense of a community.

For more information, see anti-torture measures on the European Commission’s website.

REFERENCES

Act

Entry into force

Deadline for transposition in the Member States

Official Journal

Regulation (EC) No 1236/2005

30.7.2006

-

OJ L 200, 30.7.2005, pp. 1-19

Corrigendum

-

-

OJ L 79, 16.3.2006, p. 32

Act

Entry into force

Deadline for transposition in the Member States

Official Journal

Regulation (EU) No 37/2014

20.2.2014

-

OJ L 18, 21.1.2014, pp. 1-51

Successive amendments and corrections to Regulation (EC) No 1236/2005 and its annexes have been incorporated in the basic text. This consolidated version is for reference purposes only.

RELATED ACTS

Commission Implementing Regulation (EU) No 775/2014 of 16 July 2014 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 (OJ L 210, 17.7.2014, pp. 1-10)

last update 03.08.2015

Top