Police misuse of rubber bullets and other less lethal weapons against peaceful protesters has killed dozens and maimed thousands in more than 30 countries over the past five years, Amnesty International has said. .
The rights group, in a new report released on Tuesday, said a global torture-free trade treaty was needed to regulate the trade in police equipment, including Kinetic Impact Projectiles (KIPs). ) such as rubber-coated metal bullets, and to help protect the right to protest.
“We believe that legally binding global controls on the manufacture of and trade in less lethal weapons, including KIPs, and effective guidelines on the use of force are urgently needed to combat a growing cycle of violence. abuse,” said Patrick Wilcken, researcher at Amnesty International. on military, security and police matters.
The misuse of these weapons by the police, in addition to causing deaths, has led to an “alarming increase in eye injuries”, said the reportpublished jointly with the Omega Research Foundation and entitled “My Eye Exploded”.
These injuries include ruptures of the eyeball, retinal detachments and complete loss of sight, as well as bone and skull fractures, brain damage, rupture of internal organs and hemorrhages, hearts and lungs punctured by broken ribs, genital damage and psychological trauma.
For example, in Chile, an evaluation by the country’s National Institute of Human Rights found that police actions during anti-government protests in 2019 resulted in over 440 eye injuries, with over 30 cases of eye loss.
Among them was Gustavo Gatica, a 22-year-old psychology student, who was blinded in both eyes after being hit in the face by rubber-coated metal balls fired by police during a protest on November 8, 2019.
“I felt water pouring out of my eyes…but it was blood,” Gatica told Amnesty. He said he hoped his injuries would inspire change and prevent the same from happening to others.
“I gave up my eyes for people to wake up,” he said.
Amnesty said the use of rubber bullets to suppress peaceful protests has also become commonplace in the United States.
A protester hit in the face in Minneapolis, Minnesota on May 31, 2020, said his “eye exploded” from the impact of the rubber bullet and his nose moved from where it should be to below the other eye.
The protester, who underwent reconstructive surgery, added: “They put on an eye prosthesis – so I can only see out of my right eye now.”
In Palestine, Amnesty said Israeli forces continued to regularly use rubber-coated metal bullets against Palestinians despite the country’s Supreme Court’s recommendation in 2000 that these weapons were deadly and should not be used to control Palestinians. demonstrations.
A recent report by the UN Human Rights Council notes 438 injuries among Palestinians due to Israel’s use of rubber-coated metal bullets during the 2018 Great March of Return protests.
Amnesty said it also documented the “widespread illegal use of metal balls” by Iranian security forces against protesters across the country, resulting in multiple deaths and thousands of injuries.
Among the dead were 19 people killed by security forces firing metal pellets during protests that swept the country after the death in custody of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini Last year.
Amnesty said it has also documented the use of tear gas canisters aimed and fired directly at individuals or crowds in Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, France, Gaza, Guinea, hong kongIran, Iraq, Peru, Sudan, Tunisia and Venezuela.
In Iraq, security forces in 2019 deliberately targeted protesters with grenades 10 times heavier than typical tear gas rounds, causing “horrifying injuries and at least two dozen deaths”, he said.
But despite the serious risks associated with the deployment of rubber bullets and other less lethal weapons, there are currently no international regulations on the manufacture and trade of such equipment.
Amnesty and the Omega Research Foundation said human rights-based trade controls were to be introduced on the supply of these weapons under a UN-backed deal.
“A torture-free trade treaty would prohibit all production and trade in inherently abusive weapons and law enforcement equipment, including inherently dangerous or inaccurate one-off KIPs, rubber-coated metal bullets, rubberized buckshot and multi-projectile ammunition that has resulted in blinding, other serious injuries and deaths around the world,” said Michael Crowley, research associate at the Omega Research Foundation.