NGOs Advocate for a UN Trade Treaty That Prohibits Torture

Date:

NGOs Advocate for a UN Trade Treaty That Prohibits Torture

  • News by AUN News correspondent
  • Tuesday, February 07, 2023
  • AUN News – ISSN: 2949-8090

Summary:

  • According to Western nations, most of the world’s torturers are found in authoritarian Middle Eastern governments like those in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Syria, who are known for using electric shock devices, whips, blindfolds, leg shackles, and whippings in public.

  • Amnesty International, based in London, led a coalition of over 30 civil society organisations (CSOs) last month in pushing for a convention to regulate the trade in the instruments of torture used to repress peaceful protests and mistreat detainees globally.

  • “The Alliance for Torture-Free Trade was established in September 2017 in New York, on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly, by the EU, Argentina, and Mongolia.

  • Fionnuala N. Aoláin, a Special Rapporteur for the UN on “the promotion and preservation of human rights and fundamental freedoms while combatting terrorism,” is currently in the country on a “technical visit.

  • “She will go to Washington, D.C., between February 6 and February 14, then the prison at the U.S. Naval Base Guantánamo Bay, Cuba.

When you go on one of those sight-seeing excursions in Europe, they will show you their palaces and castles—but never their mediaeval jails or torture chambers, a senior UN official once said, perhaps half-jokingly, to a group of reporters.

According to Western nations, most of the world’s torturers are found in authoritarian Middle Eastern governments like those in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Syria, who are known for using electric shock devices, whips, blindfolds, leg shackles, and whippings in public.

More recently, Guantanamo Bay, the Abu Ghraib jail in the US-occupied Iraq, and the Bagram American air station in Afghanistan all used to torture and waterboarding as standard punishment methods.

Additionally, there are “Torture Museums” and “Museum of Medieval Torture Instruments” in the centre of Amsterdam that features some of the tools from earlier times.

Amnesty International, based in London, led a coalition of over 30 civil society organisations (CSOs) last month in pushing for a convention to regulate the trade in the instruments of torture used to repress peaceful protests and mistreat detainees globally.

The fact that more than 500 companies from 58 countries are still producing, marketing, and selling items used in torture on the global market is sickening and outrageous, according to Dr. Simon Adams, president and CEO of the Center for Victims of Torture, the largest international organisation that treats survivors and campaigns for an end to torture worldwide.

“It’s time to tightly control products that are purposefully exploited by some security forces to engage in torture and to enact a global prohibition on products that serve no purpose other than torture.”

“This unethical trade in horrific human pain must be prohibited. International law requires states to work towards preventing torture, and the UN General Assembly serves as our global legislature.

Therefore, he said that the General Assembly should swiftly establish a Torture-Free Trade Treaty and forbid individuals and businesses from making money from torture.

The civil rights organisations (CSOs) launched a campaign in the declaration signed in London on January 20 to call for a treaty to forbid the manufacture and trade of tools that are inherently abusive, like spiked batons and body-worn electric shock devices, as well as the implementation of human rights-based controls on the work in tools that are more common among law enforcement, like pepper spray, rubber bullets, and handcuffs.

According to the coalition, these materials are frequently used to carry out acts of torture or cruel treatment, which are entirely prohibited under international law.

Verity Coyle, Amnesty International’s Law & Policy adviser, responded to the question of whether such a treaty should originate at the United Nations by saying, “Yes, Amnesty International around the world is campaigning for a Torture-Free Trade Treaty through our Flagship Campaign – Protect the Protest.

Amnesty released this press statement in reaction to the Group of Governmental Experts (GGE) report on May 30, 2022.

According to her, the 193-member UNGA is the appropriate forum given the 2019 resolution, which includes the recommendations from the GGE study.

The EU, Argentina, and Mongolia serve as the alliance’s coordinators, and it has more than 60 members.

Amnesty received an invitation to the Alliance meeting in June 2022 to give its study of the GGEs report, and “we continue to hold regular contacts with the EU in particular in anticipation of resolution being brought forward demanding a negotiation mandate.”

Coyle emphasised that Argentina routinely communicates with the civil society in Latin America about the procedure.

Coyle, a representative of Amnesty International on the international steering committee of the Campaign to Stop Killer Robots, stated, “Our Sections around the world are preparing to start on a series of lobby sessions in capitals.”

The Alliance for Torture-Free Trade was established in September 2017 in New York, on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly, by the EU, Argentina, and Mongolia.

Across 60 nations from all over the globe currently make up the Alliance, which has vowed to “work together to further prohibit, restrict, and end trade” in products used in torture, other cruel treatment, and the death sentence.

A procedure for “considering the feasibility, scope and parameters for establishing uniform international standards” for policing international trade in this area was launched when the UN General Assembly adopted Resolution A/73/L.94, Towards torture-free trade, in June 2019.

A UN Secretary General’s study of member states’ positions, which was the first step in this UN process, was published in July 2020. It found that most responding states supported international standards and should be implemented through a “legally binding instrument establishing measures to control and restrict trade in goods used for capital punishment, torture, or other forms of ill-treatment.”

Fionnuala N. Aoláin, a Special Rapporteur for the UN on “the promotion and preservation of human rights and fundamental freedoms while combatting terrorism,” is currently in the country on a “technical visit.”

She will go to Washington, D.C., between February 6 and February 14, then the prison at the U.S. Naval Base Guantánamo Bay, Cuba.

N Aoláin will also conduct several voluntary interviews with people in the United States and overseas over the following three months, including 11 September 2001 terrorist attack victims and their relatives, as well as former detainees in countries of resettlement/repatriation.

According to the Terms of Reference for Country Visits by Special Procedures Mandate Holders, the visit is conducted.

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), Article 36, Asia Alliance Against Torture, Association for the Prevention of Torture (APT), Harvard Law School’s International Human Rights Clinic, International Commission of Jurists, International Rehabilitation Council for Torture Victims, The Philippine Alliance of Human Rights Advocates, and the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF) are among the CSOs promoting the treaty in addition to Amnesty International.

In addition, Coyle of Amnesty International noted that in recent years, during the policing of protests and in places of detention, across all regions, tools like tear gas, rubber bullets, batons, and restraints have been used to intimidate, repress, and punish protesters, human rights defenders, and others.

In addition to being assaulted with tear gas grenades, bathed in excessive amounts of chemical irritants, beaten with batons, or restrained into stressful postures, thousands of demonstrators have suffered eye injuries due to the careless deployment of rubber bullets.

Despite this, there are currently no international restrictions on the trade in law enforcement equipment relating to human rights. She asserted that the UN General Assembly now has a historic chance to vote to open treaty discussions.

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