In 2016, EU institutions approved an amendment to the European “Tools of Torture” regulation (EC 1236/2005). This regulation aims to ensure European products are not exported for use in torture or capital punishment. Certain commercially manufactured medicines are covered by the regulation as they are sought by foreign prisons for use in lethal injection executions.
The Tools of Torture regulation creates a list-based export control system, under which exporters require a license from their national export authority to sell certain “dual use” products overseas. To obtain a license, exporters must demonstrate that they have taken necessary steps to ensure that the product will not end up being used to carry out human rights abuses.
In 2011 the European Commission made an emergency amendment to the regulation in order to restrict the export of particular medicines which were sought for use in lethal injections. At the same time, the Commission initiated a process to consider a more fulsome review of the regulation, with a mind to proposing further substantive amendments.
A central focus of this review was ensuring the export control regime for medicinal products reflected the unique characteristics of the global trade in medicines. To this end, the European Commission convened a “Group of Experts” to advise on the drafting of the regulation, which included the Lethal Injection Information Center’s Maya Foa, along with doctors and pharmaceutical company representatives.
In January 2014 the European Commission proposed its draft amendment to the regulation, and in October 2015 the European Parliament approved its own draft of the proposal. In 2016, the draft amendment passed into law (implementing regulation EU 1352/2011).