Torture weapons advertised on government website

Click to follow
The Independent Online

Banned electric shock weapons that can be used to torture and rape have been advertised on the Government's official export website.

Banned electric shock weapons that can be used to torture and rape have been advertised on the Government's official export website.

An advert for stun guns, whose export was prohibited in 1997 under Labour's "ethical" foreign policy, was placed on the Department of Trade and Industry's TradeUK website last month by a Surrey arms dealer. The guns, which are about six inches long and which have been used to rape prisoners under interrogation are favoured by torturers because they leave no marks.

An advert placed on the DTI's website for Nisam International of Esher listed stun guns among the equipment the firm was prepared to sell. The entry said that the firm was "fully authorised by the British Government to deal in all defence and security goods".

When contacted by The Independent on Friday the firm's managing director, Saliya Abeyeskera, denied that his company had ever sold stun guns or even advertised on the site. Later that day the advert was amended to remove the illegal equipment.

"I am not aware of this at all," Mr Abeyeskera said. "I am a little bit surprised. We aren't selling stun guns and we haven't sold stun guns. We only sell to legitimate countries and we have to get export licences."

The DTI's website also contains an export lead placed in October 1997, after the ban came in, calling on British firms selling "electric pistols" to contact the commercial officer at the British embassy in Mexico.

Ann Clwyd, the chairwoman of the Parliamentary Human Rights Group, plans to question Robin Cook, the Foreign Secretary, about the entries when he appears before the Commons arms control committee tomorrow. Yesterday Ms Clwyd attacked the Government for a lack of "joined-up thinking", with the Foreign Office trying to stop the sale of torture equipment while the DTI allowed firms to advertise it for export.

"The Government made a particular point of saying we were not exporting this equipment. I would have expected loopholes of this sort to have been contained," Ms Clwyd said. A DTI spokeswoman said that there was no censorship of the TradeUK website, although if anything illegal was found it would be changed or removed.

"If there is, in the DTI's view, a legitimate security opportunity then export controls would still apply and the company would have to apply for an export licence," she said.

Comments