Commerce Department|Defines “Torture” Device

     WASHINGTON (CN) – Thumbscrews are banned from export, but shock restraints are not, under new changes to the Commerce Department’s Commerce Control List. The agency has updated and clarified export and re-export license requirements on striking weapons, restraint devices, shotguns and parts, optical sighting devices and electric shock devices.
It also has added equipment designed for the execution of humans to the Commerce Control List.
     The Bureau of Industry and Security, which administrates the list, has also adopted a definition of torture used in a U.S. statute that implements the United Nations Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment.
     “Torture” is defined as an “act committed by a person acting under the color of law specifically intended to inflict severe physical or mental pain or suffering (other than pain or suffering incidental to lawful sanctions) upon another person within his custody or physical control.”
     In announcing the rule, the Commerce Department noted that it has a longstanding policy of denial of applications to export or reexport specially designed implements of torture.
     The Export Administration Regulations impose license requirements for certain U.S. exports and reexports from other countries for, among other reasons, “crime control.” The crime control license requirements are intended for the “support of U.S. foreign policy to promote human rights throughout the world.”
     Some items could by used for either crime control or torture and so the agency looks for current law enforcement use of the item. For instance, thumbscrews are banned from export, but shock restraints are not.

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