Support our work: become a Friend of Statewatch from as little as £1/€1 per month.

Future sub-lethal, incapacitating and paralysing technologies
by Dr Steve Wright, Director of the Omega Foundation

Full-text of report: pdf  


This paper covers the emergence of new sub-lethal, incapacitating and paralysing technologies and their coming role in the mass production of torture, cruel, inhumane and degrading treatment. It grew out of the work the Omega Foundation has undertaken for Amnesty International (on electroshock, restraining and torture technologies), the European Commission, the European Parliament and Landmine Action. Throughout its' existence, Omega has tracked technologies, particularly less-lethal weapons) deployed by the police, military and security services to create human rights violations, including weapons used in torture. However, such technologies have always been seen by us as multi-functional, weapons of flexible response rather than specifically designed just for a role in torture.

Thus in many senses, to look for specially designed implements of torture is a rabbit hole, since very few manufacturers would deem such a role for their products. There are of course exceptions, for example, the ‘House of Fun' electronic torture chamber designed for the Dubai Special Branch by a company here in London. Standard operating procedures become routinely used in torture and should be considered as a form of torture software, with the teaching of the torturers as a live-ware capable of being exported and replicated. Some of these devices and techniques are bespoke. For example, the ‘Apollo machine' devised by Savak, the Shah's secret police in Iran (it delivered an electric shock to sensitive parts of the body whilst a steel helmet covered prisoners heads to amplify their screams) was also used by the succeeding regimes religious police. Others, such as the sensory deprivation techniques evolved by the British Army in Northern Ireland, now form part of the interrogation procedures by Special forces throughout the world."

Statewatch News online | Join Statewatch news e-mail list | Statewatch publications | Statewatch subscribers websites

Our work is only possible with your support.
Become a Friend of Statewatch from as little as £1/€1 per month.


Spotted an error? If you've spotted a problem with this page, just click once to let us know.

Report error