Spiked batons and other spiked weapons and devices such as spiked shields, made of metal or other materials, have been widely marketed to law enforcement officials. But striking an individual with such a weapon could never be justified as a legitimate law enforcement action. Any use would amount to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.
Direct contact electric shock
Direct contact electric shock weapons and equipment including electric shock stun guns, stun batons and stun shields have been developed, traded and employed by police and security forces throughout the world. The ability to apply extremely painful high voltage electric shocks at the push of a button, including to very sensitive parts of a person’s body, and to repeatedly do this without leaving long-lasting identifiable physical traces, makes them a favoured tool of torture.
body worn electric shock
Body worn electric shock devices are attached to prisoners’ bodies and worn, sometimes for hours at a time, with the constant threat that they may be triggered at any moment. They can be activated by remote control from up to 100 metres away, delivering an electric shock of up to 50,000 volts. Companies manufacture a range of body worn electric shock devices including 'stun belts', 'stun cuffs', 'stun vests' and 'stun sleeves - designed to be placed on various limbs or body parts.
Wall and floor restraints
Restraints fixed to a wall or floor have been developed in various forms including: single wall cuffs for ankle or wrist; fixed attachments such as rings or hooks; or elaborate four-point restraints for securing a detainee’s ankles and wrists to the wall or floor. Human rights monitors have repeatedly documented inmates remaining chained to fixed objects for dangerously long periods of time and/or being restrained whilst other torture or abuse was perpetrated.
"Persons taken into police custody should not be left handcuffed to rings fixed to a wall and instead should be accommodated without delay in rooms/cells offering appropriate security conditions" The Committee for the Prevention of Torture, council of europe
Thumb-cuffs are designed to be attached around detainees’ thumbs. Various types are available including fixed thumb-cuffs with a bar of metal with holes for the thumbs; thumb-cuffs connected by chains or a hinge. The cuffs may or may not have serrated inner edges. Thumb-cuffs have been widely marketed by law enforcement and security equipment distributors throughout the world. However, they pose a risk of direct injury by excessive pressure upon the detainee's thumbs and a high risk of injury by fracture of delicate bones or nerve damage. Furthermore there is an increased risk of injury from falls because the detainee cannot cushion the fall. The practical utility of thumb-cuffs for legitimate law enforcement purposes is unproven, whilst there is a history of their use to fix detainees in ‘stress positions’ amounting to torture and other ill-treatment.
Restraint Chairs consist of a metal or wooden framed chair into which individuals are held by straps or restraints at various points including the wrist, elbow, shoulder, chest, waist, thigh or ankle. Some chairs use handcuffs or other metal restraints and are inherently abusive - any use would amount to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, and such devices should be prohibited. Other devices use fabric strap restraints - but they too serve no legitimate law enforcement function that cannot be effectively accomplished with safer alternatives. The only conceivable use is a medical, where their use for short periods under close medical supervision may be justified in certain extremely limited circumstances i.e. to prevent agitated patients harming themselves or others. However, they can be readily misused. Amnesty International has documented prisoners being secured in such chairs for excessive periods of time, or to secure prisoners whilst other torture or ill-treatment was carried out on them.
Handcuffs can be a legitimate law enforcement tool if used appropriately, but are frequently misused to inflict torture or ill-treatment. Human rights monitors have highlighted numerous and widespread cases of handcuffs applied for unnecessarily long periods, being over tightened, being used to enforce stress positions and being used to hit people. There have been numerous reports of individuals being suspended by handcuffs so that other torture can be perpetrated.
Batons and other hand held impact devices
Batons and truncheons may have a legitimate law enforcement use if used appropriately, for instance in the disarming of an individual who poses a serious threat. However, Amnesty International have highlighted numerous and widespread examples of batons being misused to inflict torture or other ill treatment, including beatings and sexual abuses. Other devices such as sjamboks and similar law enforcement whips have no legitimate law enforcement function, but are frequently misused to inflict torture or ill-treatment.
Riot control agents (rca) - tear gas and pepper spray
Tear gas, pepper spray and other toxic chemicals are commonly used around the world by law enforcement officials, both for crowd control as well as for arrest and restraint of individuals. However they are can easily be misused including in police or prison cells and detention centres to ill-treat and torture individuals or during policing of public assemblies to ill-treat and punish people on a large scale. When tear gas or pepper spray is used in excessive quantities or in confined spaces where people cannot disperse, the toxic properties of the agents can lead to serious injury or death, particularly to vulnerable individuals.
Pharmaceutical chemicals used for judicial executions
Lethal injection is the practice of executing a person to implement a judicial sentence of death using a lethal combination and/or dosage of drugs administered intravenously. This method of execution is allowed by law in China, Guatemala, the Maldives, Papua New Guinea, Taiwan, Thailand, United States of America, and Vietnam.
case study: the promotion of prohibited goods in paris
In May 2016, Omega and Amnesty International presented evidence that EU and non-EU companies which exhibited at the Milipol military, security and policing trade fair in Paris in November 2015, had distributed marketing materials promoting banned torture equipment including thumb cuffs, spiked batons and weighted leg restraints. Companies had also physically displayed weighted leg irons and a banned spiked shield. It is unclear how they managed to do this when the import of these items into France is explicitly prohibited under the Torture Trade Regulation. In its response to Omega and Amnesty International, the French Government declared their support for “an ambitious revision of the Regulation… especially regarding prohibiting the promotion of products prohibited by the Regulation.” The evidence provided by Omega and Amnesty International led EU Member States to agree to ban the promotion of prohibited goods with no use other than inflicting the death penalty, torture or ill-treatment. In 2017, prohibited goods were again exhibited and promoted by companies at the Milipol 2017 trade fair in Paris, leading to the closure of one exhibitors' stand and removal of materials from other exhibitors.