By Paddy McGuffin in England:
Banned torture gear flaunted at arms fair
Thursday 15 September 2011
Organisers of the London arms fair launched a desperate damage limitation exercise today by expelling a British firm openly advertising banned torture equipment.
Sussex-based firm Beechwood Equipment was found by Amnesty International to be displaying pamphlets advertising shackles and leg-irons from the firm CTS-Thompson at this week’s Defence and Security Equipment International.
Despite explicit acknowledgments on the DSEi website that the sale of “leg irons, gang chains, shackles and shackle bracelets” are prohibited, the brochures – freely available to potential investors – promoted products for sale from CTS-Thompson.
The brochure offers oversized leg cuffs, waist chains, lead chains and “the enhanced transport restraint system” which combines waist chains and cuffs with leg cuffs.
Under British law the sale or export of such equipment is banned.
The discovery will be of serious embarrassment to the government, which partly funds the event through its arms promotions arms UK Trade and Investment Defence and Security Organisation.
Organisers of the DSEi Clarion events confirmed that a stall run by Sussex-based firm Beechwood Equipment had been shut down after they were alerted to the situation.
A spokesman for Clarion events said that the firm had robust procedures in place to prevent such incidents occurring but that “sadly occasionally something slips through the net.”
He added that a close search and survey of all literature on other stands had now been instituted and said they were grateful to Amnesty for bringing the matter to their attention.
Amnesty International’s arms programme director Oliver Sprague said: “Sadly this is not the first time that DSEi has allowed prohibited torture equipment to find its way onto exhibitors’ stands, despite a public commitment to monitor compliance and scrutinise all advertising material.”
In 2007, Amnesty researchers discovered two companies, Cardiff-based BCB International and Chinese firm Famous Glory Holding, promoting banned leg restraints.
The DSEi website confirmed that Beechwood Equipment’s stand has been closed and claimed that its response had been “robust” and “immediate.”
It added: “The stand was closed as soon as the literature was found and we should stress that no equipment was found.
“We have informed the Export Control Organisation of the breach and of our decision to close the stand.”
But Mr Sprague said that DSEi’s action “certainly wasn’t ‘immediate.’ These materials should never have been on display in the first place.
“These illegal torture goods were on display for two days prior to Amnesty uncovering them.
“Sadly this is not the first time that it has fallen to Amnesty International to police what is being promoted at the fair and clearly this embarrassing episode demonstrates that the systems put in place to monitor and enforce the law, are far too lax.”
The Star contacted Beechwood Equipment for comment but by time of press they had not responded.
Lucas exposes cluster bomb sale at scandal-hit fair: here.