The absolute ban on torture and ill-treatment enshrined in core United Nations human rights conventions is reflected at 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.
One of the aims of the Union’s foreign policy is to promote respect for fundamental rights in non-member countries.
The Union’s actions based on its commitment to stopping torture and abolishing capital punishment include measures to prevent the trade in certain goods that could be used for capital punishment or torture or other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment.
As part of its responsibility for foreign policy-related regulatory instruments, the FPI is the lead service for Council Regulation (EC) No 1236/2005 concerning trade in such goods. The lists of prohibited and controlled goods are set out in Commission Implementing Regulation (EU) No 775/2014 and were amended by Regulation (EU) 2016/2134 of the European Parliament and of the Council. Regulation (EU) 2016/2134 was adopted on 23 November 2016 and strengthens the 2005 text. It comprises a specific set of rules for the export controls applied to prevent listed medicinal products from being used for capital punishment in a third country, including a Union general export authorisation. It also imposes new restrictions on supplying brokering services related to any listed goods located in a third country, on supplying certain other services to third countries and on promoting certain goods in trade fairs in the Union.
FPI prepares Commission delegated acts (on e.g. the lists of goods), working in close cooperation with other Commission departments and the EEAS.
Sodium thiopental and similar substances are used in lethal injections in several countries where the death penalty is still being applied.
In December 2011, the European Commission added these substances to the list of goods subject to export controls according to the anti-torture goods Regulation.
As proposed by the Commission the European Parliament and the Council adopted specific rules for the export controls applied to such substances on 23 November 2016.