Reuters International

STRASBOURG (Reuters) - The European Parliament passed legislation on Tuesday designed to strengthen the EU's ban on the export of torture equipment by preventing the marketing and promotion of items such as spiked batons or restraint chairs.

The European Union has since 2005 banned goods used for capital punishment or torture, including drug injection systems and electric-shock belts on a list since expanded to thumb cuffs or chains to anchor a person to a wall or floor.

However, rights group Amnesty International had criticised the existing legislation for still allowing companies to advertise such equipment at military and security trade fairs inside the bloc, notably in London and Paris, and promoting them on the internet.

It highlighted the promotion of banned equipment at a Paris exhibition in November 2015 and to a German company showcasing on its website "stun-cuffs" operated by remote control that can deliver an electric shock of 60,000 volts.

The new EU law, likely to enter force at the start of 2017, is designed to expand on the export ban to prevent marketing and promoting of torture goods, whether at trade fairs, in catalogues or on the internet, and to end transit of such equipment.

"We want to make it difficult, and to remind countries, such as Saudi Arabia, Iran, China but also the U.S. that we don't tolerate and we condemn these practices," EU trade commissioner Cecilia Malmstrom told a debate before the vote.

"We should of course continue our fight against capital punishment for all crimes and invite countries to apply similar end-use controls to their exports," she said.

The new law will extend to ban acting as a broker for such goods or offering technical support, including repairs or training. The law also aims to make it easier and faster to update the banned list to take into account changing technologies.

"We hope that this can provide a start and we would look to see similar regulations in other parts of the world," said Amnesty International EU foreign policy specialist David Nichols, welcoming the strengthened legislation.

(Reporting by Philip Blenkinsop; Editing by Alison Williams)


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