China's Implements Of Torture Are Being Traded At British Arms Fairs

23/09/2014 17:48 | Updated 23 September 2014

Cruel instruments of torture manufactured in China, including electric shock wands and neck-and-wrist cuffs have been advertised and sold at UK arms fairs and then sold to the world's most brutal regimes, a damning report has revealed.

In fact, the UK routinely hosts arms fairs where torture equipment is advertised, Amnesty has claimed.

Last September, Chinese exhibitor Tianjin Myway International was ejected from London Dockland’s Defence and Security Equipment International exhibition for advertising electric shock stun guns in its company brochure. It was the third successive DSEi exhibition where banned equipment was on sale. The next DSEi fair is planned for September 2015.

At other UK arms fairs Chinese companies Famous Glory Holdings and Echo Industrial Co Ltd have advertised leg cuffs, a range of electro shock stun guns and batons.

“The UK government has never prosecuted any company for illegally peddling torture equipment at UK arms fairs, despite numerous repeat offences dating back over a decade," Oliver Sprague, the charity' arms programme director, said.

“The UK's public rhetoric is that it has the strongest laws to ban this trade, but its actions so far have demonstrated the complete opposite. We want assurances that this is the end of the UK playing the dirty role of matchmaker between trader and torturer. There is no way we should be involved in this grim torture industry.”

UK export controls forbid “any act calculated to promote the supply of any category A goods” and the UK Government’s guidance states: “The controls on Category A goods cover ‘any act calculated to promote’ the movement of such goods with no exemption for general advertising or promotion.” Category A goods include goods defined as torture equipment under UK legislation. But despite these rules, "manufactures continue to flagrantly advertise torture equipment", Amnesty said.

Here are some examples of the equipment sold by Chinese companies. Some companies attempted to sell electric shock stun guns, leg cuffs and batons through arms trading in Britain.

  • Neck restraint and combination handcuffs
    Scores of Chinese companies manufacture and sell abusive restraint devices including heavy weighted leg cuffs and rigid restraint chairs; one company manufactures neck combination cuffs. These neck devices can endanger an individual’s life by restricting breathing, blood circulation and nerve communication between the body and the brain. A review of several of the companies’ marketing materials reveals this equipment is being sold to various law enforcement agencies across the world, including agencies that persistently abuse human rights. One company – China Xinxing Import / Export Corporation – which has advertised equipment including thumb cuffs, restraint chairs, electric shock stun guns and batons – stated in 2012 that it has links with more than 40 African countries and its trade with Africa was worth more than US$100 million (£61 million).
  • Chinese weighted leg cuffs
    Chinese made weighted leg cuffs are displayed at the Chengdu Jin'an Equipment’s booth at an exhibition at an undisclosed location.
  • Chinese spiked baton
    China is the only country known to manufacture spiked batons – which have metal spikes along the entire length of the baton or are plastic batons with a spiked metal head. These are specifically designed as implements of torture.
  • Chinese made spiked baton
    Seven Chinese companies openly advertise these inhumane sticks for export. Chinese-manufactured spiked batons have reportedly been used by police in Cambodia and exported to security forces in Nepal and Thailand.
  • Chinese electric shock stun batons
    29 Chinese companies involved in the export trade were advertising electric stun batons. These devices make it easy for security officials to apply extremely painful multiple shocks by hand to sensitive areas of the body including the genitals, throat, groin or ears without long-lasting physical traces. Amnesty and Omega found evidence of what appear to be Chinese manufactured electric shock batons being carried by police in Ghana, Senegal, Egypt and Madagascar.
  • Police batons
    A selection of Chinese straight, side handled and telescopic batons, photographed at China Police 2008. Amnesty is concerned the batons are easily sold to countries who have poor human rights records.
  • Chinese projectile electric-shock stun gun
    Chinese projectile electric-shock stun gun, photographed on the Ningbo Sure Well Electronic Co. Ltd stand at AAD 2010. At other UK arms fairs Chinese companies Famous Glory Holdings and Echo Industrial Co Ltd have advertised a range of electro shock stun guns.

The full report detailed 130 Chinese companies, up from 28 about a decade ago, which are now engaged in the development, production and export of law enforcement tools like spiked batons and restraint chairs with ankle cuffs which contort detainees. Amnesty said the torture implements are being shipped to Cambodia, Nepal, Congo, Egypt, Ghana, Madagascar, Senegal and Uganda, and has urged China to ban their manufacture.

"There is no excuse whatsoever for allowing the manufacturing and trade in equipment for which the primary purpose is to torture or inflict cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment on people," Patrick Wilcken, security trade and human rights researcher at Amnesty International, said in a statement.

China explicitly bans torture and mistreatment of inmates, and it strongly denies widespread allegations that torture is often used by Chinese police and Communist Party investigators.

Amnesty says it has documented a wide range of physical torture in China, including the use of electric shock batons.

On Monday, the Xinhua News agency reported that a court in northeastern China had convicted three police officers and four other non-police officers of torturing suspects and killing one person. One victim said he was restrained to an iron chair while being prodded with an electric shock baton, Xinhua said.

More from the Associated Press:

China's Public Security Ministry did not respond to requests for comment. Calls to one of the companies that makes electric-shock wands, Anhua Police Equipment Manufacturing Co, in eastern Jiangsu province, were referred to a senior manager who identified himself only by his surname Ma.

"We are at the service of the Chinese government, so I cannot answer you," Ma said. "I think China has pretty good human rights records, and I suggest those countries finding issues with China's human rights records look at themselves first."

A woman who answered the phone at Yuanda Industrial and Trade Co, which makes restraint chairs and neck-and-wrist cuffs, said the company was producing only what the government has approved and is not responsible for any wrongdoing.

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