Manufacturing torture? South Africa's trade in electric shock equipment

Manufacturing torture? South Africa's trade in electric shock equipment

In South Africa, the trade in certain kinds of fi rearms and military equipment is controlled for reasons of safety and security. However, there is a gap in legislation when it comes to the control of law enforcement equipment that can facilitate torture and ill treatment. This brief examines electric shock devices as an example of security equipment that needs stronger trade- control measures.

The brief outlines concerns over the use of electric shock equipment, and discusses the manufacture of these items in South Africa and their trade with other countries. It also looks at trade controls currently used elsewhere, and provides recommendations for changes in the control measures surrounding these products in South Africa.

Recommendations:
  • the trade in law-enforcement equipment that has no practical purpose other than for the purpose of torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment should be prohibited
  • body-worn electric shock devices (e.g. stun belts) have no legitimate law enforcement purpose and should be banned for import and export
  • hand-held direct contact electric shock devices designed for law enforcement (e.g. stun shields and stun batons) are prone to abuse and should be banned for import and export
  • wired projectile electric shock weapons should be regulated in the same way as firearms
  • a targeted end-use control mechanism for policing and security equipment would help prevent the transfer of weapons that could contribute to internal repression
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