Next Tuesday, 3 April, if you happen to pass by 11, rue Berryer, in Paris, you might be confronted with a display of torture instruments, for sale!
The auction house Cornette de Saint Cyr will be presenting, among the more than 300 objects and documents, a few sets of handcuffs, a hand crusher, and hanging ropes.
The collection belonged to Fernand Meyssonnier, France’s last executioner, who carried out nearly 200 executions in French-ruled Algeria.
Several human rights organisations already expressed their disagreement with the sale, denouncing the “commercialisation of torture”, and called on the French state to put a halt to the sale, if necessary by buying the lot for national museums.
What those behind the auction house may not know is that torture is at the moment a widespread practice in the majority of the countries. If they had known this they probably wouldn’t have accepted to carry out the sale, and they certainly wouldn’t have called the event “Penalties and Punishments of Yesteryear”.
Fabio is a Communications Officer and Assistant Editor of Torture Journal at IRCT.