China Police Equipment Aids Rights Violations: Amnesty

More than 130 Chinese companies are making and selling equipment that can be used for torture, fueling human-rights violations across Africa and Asia, according to a report by Amnesty International and the Omega Research Foundation.

The number of companies involved in the production and trade of potentially dangerous law enforcement equipment has risen from 28 a decade ago, according to the report, entitled “China’s Trade in Tools of Torture and Repression.”

“Increasing numbers of Chinese companies are profiting from the trade in tools of torture and repression, fueling human rights abuses across the world” said Patrick Wilcken, security trade and human rights researcher at Amnesty International in London.

China’s Foreign Ministry didn’t respond to faxed questions about the report.

Some of the devices marketed by these companies are intrinsically cruel and inhumane and should immediately be banned, the report said. They include electric-shock stun batons, metal-spiked truncheons and weighted leg cuffs.

China’s export system is not the only one failing to effectively control the transfer of law enforcement equipment to ensure respect for human rights, the report said. The worldwide trade is poorly controlled, and even places with stricter regulations such as the European Union and the U.S. need to make improvements and close gaps as new products and technologies enter the market, the report said.

Spiked Batons

China is exporting other equipment that can have legitimate use in policing, such as tear gas and plastic projectiles or riot-control vehicles, even when there is a risk of serious human-rights violations by the receiving law enforcement agencies, it said.

China is the only country known to manufacture spiked batons, which have metal spikes along their entire length or are plastic batons with a spiked metal head, the report said.

The spiked batons have been “reportedly” used by police in Cambodia and exported to security forces in Nepal and Thailand, the report said, without citing where it got the information.

“China’s flawed export system has allowed the trade in torture and repression to prosper,” said Wilcken. “There is an urgent need for the Chinese authorities to fundamentally reform its trade regulations to end the irresponsible transfer of law enforcement equipment to agencies who will likely use it to violate human rights.”

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