Use of Force and Social Protest - Protecting Fundamental Rights

Over the past number of years, law enforcement and security forces have increasingly turned to the use of crowd-control weapons (CCWs) to respond to popular protests. Today, the International Network of Civil Liberties Organizations (INCLO) and Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) release "Lethal in Disguise: The Health Consequences of Crowd-Control Weapons", a report documenting the health effects of these weapons.

The report focuses on the dangers of so-called “less lethal weapons”, particularly when used to control or manage assemblies. It is unique in its format of linking medical literature and data on weapons’ health effects with case studies highlighting their human toll.

The report was launched at the United Nations in Geneva on the occasion of the presentation of a joint report on the proper management of assemblies, prepared by the Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association, Maina Kiai, and the Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, Christof Heyns. The Special Rapporteurs’ report was presented to the 31st session of the Human Rights Council.

Lethal in Disguise underscores the very real dangers of CCWs, documenting cases of death, disability, and serious injury that occur when weapons are used inappropriately and, in the case of protests, often indiscriminately. In addition to summarizing a critical mass of medical literature on the effects of these weapons, it includes case studies from Argentina, Canada, Egypt, England, Hungary, Israel, Kenya, South Africa, and the United States.

INCLO is a network of independent, national human rights organizations working to promote fundamental rights and freedoms. The INCLO member organizations that participated in the report are: the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), the Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI), the Canadian Civil Liberties Association (CCLA), Centro de Estudios Legales y Sociales (CELS) in Argentina, the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights (EIPR), the Hungarian Civil Liberties Union (HCLU), the Human Rights Law Network (HRLN) in India, the Irish Council for Civil Liberties (ICCL), the Kenya Human Rights Commission (KHRC), and the Legal Resources Centre (LRC) in South Africa.

Lethal In Disguise is currently available here.

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