Torture is among the most abhorrent violations of human rights and is strictly condemned by international law. Freedom from torture is a right that must be protected under all circumstances. Its promotion and protection is deservedly a priority of the EU's human rights policy.
I have received and considered a copy of the Amnesty International report. I welcome the contribution that the paper makes to efforts to combat torture. It plays a significant part in the efforts of the international community to put an end to incidences of torture by state and non-state agents alike.
For a long time Ireland, with our EU partners, has been strongly opposed to the application of the death penalty and the use of torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment. On 9 April 2001 the General Affairs Council of the EU adopted a set of guidelines for the implementation of its policy against torture. The guidelines provide the EU with an operational tool for use in its contacts with third countries and in multilateral human rights fora. They support and strengthen its ongoing efforts towards the global prevention and eradication of torture.
In continuance of this policy the Council is currently considering a proposal for the EU to impose restrictions on trade in certain equipment that could be used for capital punishment, torture or other cruel, degrading or inhuman treatment or punishment. The proposal reflects the Union's strong opposition to such practices. Moreover, the proposal responds to the resolutions on torture adopted by the United Nations Commission on Human Rights, including at this year's 59th session, that call,inter alia, for UN member states to take action, including legislative measures, to prevent and prohibit the export of equipment designed to inflict torture or other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment. The UN special rapporteur on torture, Mr. Theo van Boven, highlighted the Commission's proposal in his recent report on the subject.