The Recommendation CM/Rec(2021)2 of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe to member States on measures against the trade in goods used for the death penalty, torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment is an important step towards combatting torture globally.
Torture and other ill-treatment are among the most abhorrent violations of human rights, human integrity and human dignity. They are prohibited by international law. Yet, despite this absolute prohibition, torture and other ill-treatment persist in many parts of the world. For this reason, the EU regulates trade in goods used for torture and the death penalty.
The Recommendation provides guidelines for the 47 Council of Europe Member States regarding national legal frameworks and measures aimed at prohibiting altogether the import, export and transit of goods with no other purpose than the infliction of torture, ill treatment or death penalty. It also sets out measures for the responsible regulation of trade in certain pharmaceutical chemicals and law-enforcement equipment to prevent abusive practices. Finally, the Recommendation underlines the importance of multilateral cooperation, for example, through information-exchange and dissemination of best practices among Member States, support to non-Member States and action in other international organisations, to secure effectively torture-free trade across Europe and beyond.
Inspired by the EU ‘Anti-Torture’ Regulation, this Council of Europe Recommendation is crucial at a time when human rights and democracy are being severely challenged. It also illustrates how the Council of Europe and the European Union partner in promoting human rights.
The European Convention on Human Rights, the European Court of Human Rights case-law and the standards developed by the Council of Europe Committee for the Prevention of Torture (CPT) have brought an important contribution over the years to the eradication of torture and inhumane and degrading treatment. The Council of Europe’s Recommendation on measures towards strengthening international regulations against trade in goods used for torture and the death penalty is also an important step to promote action in relevant international forums, in particular through the ‘Alliance for Torture-Free Trade’.
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