Sharp lead pellets fired by Indian security forces from pellet gun, had hit12-year-old Moin Mushtaq. The pellets destroyed his right eye beyond repair (2 October 2016).
Tue 14 March 2023:
Rights group says a global Torture-Free Trade treaty is urgently needed to regulate the trade in policing equipment.
Police misuse of rubber bullets and other less lethal weapons against peaceful protesters has killed dozens of people and maimed thousands in more than 30 countries over the last five years, Amnesty International has said.
The human rights group, in a new report published on Tuesday, said a global Torture-Free Trade treaty was needed to regulate the trade in policing 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 and trade in less lethal weapons, including KIPs, along with effective guidelines on the use of force are urgently needed to combat an escalating cycle of abuses,” said Patrick Wilcken, Amnesty International’s researcher on military, security and policing issues.
Police misuse of such weapons, in addition to causing deaths, has resulted in an “alarming increase in eye injuries”, said the report, published jointly with the Omega Research Foundation and titled “My Eye Exploded”.
These injuries include eyeball ruptures, retinal detachments and the complete loss of sight, as well as bone and skull fractures, brain injuries, the rupture of internal organs and haemorrhaging, punctured hearts and lungs from broken ribs, damage to genitalia and psychological trauma.
Dozens Blinded by Chile Police in Violent Crackdown on Protests.
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 pellets fired by police during a protest on November 8, 2019.
“I felt the water running from my eyes … but it was blood,” Gatica told Amnesty. He said he hoped his injuries would inspire change and stop the same from happening to others.
Amnesty said the use of rubber bullets to suppress peaceful protest has also become commonplace in the United States.
One demonstrator 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 demonstrator, who underwent reconstructive surgery, added, “They put in a prosthetic eye — so I can only see out of my right eye now.”
In Palestine, Amnesty said Israeli forces have continued to routinely use rubber-coated metal bullets against Palestinians despite Israel’s Supreme Court recommending in 2000 that such weapons were lethal and should not be used for policing demonstrations.
Eight-year-old Palestinian boy, Malik Issa, was shot in the face by an Israeli officer in Jerusalem, 22 February 2020 [Reynad Ahmed/Twitter]
The deaths included 19 people killed by security forces firing metal pellets during the protests that swept the country following the custodial death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini last year.
Amnesty said it has also documented the use of tear gas grenades being aimed and fired directly at individuals or crowds in Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, France, Gaza, Guinea, Hong Kong, Iran, Iraq, Peru, Sudan, Tunisia and Venezuela.
In Iraq, security forces in 2019 deliberately targeted protesters with grenades that are 10 times heavier than typical tear gas munitions, causing “horrific injuries and at least two dozen deaths”, it said.
But despite the grave risks in the deployment of rubber bullets and other less lethal weapons, there are currently no international regulations on the manufacture and trade of this equipment.
Amnesty and the Omega Research Foundation said that human rights-based trade controls needed to be introduced on the supply of such weaponry as part of a UN-backed agreement.
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