Visual guide to law enforcement and security equipment

The Visual Guide to law enforcement and security equipment pulls together images, key concerns, policies and recommendations on nearly 60 types of equipment from handcuffs to tear gas to electric shock batons. It covers specialist equipment, including technologies that are specifically designed to inflict torture and other ill-treatment. In addition, this Guide also covers equipment that can have a legitimate use when used appropriately and in a human rights-compliant manner, but is often misused to commit acts of torture and other ill-treatment by prison, police, and other agencies.

Governments, legal practitioners, intergovernmental institutions, rehabilitation organisations, and civil society are often not fully aware of these technologies and their role in facilitating torture. As a result of this knowledge gap, trade control officials fail to prevent transfers that facilitate torture, and law enforcement agencies operate with inappropriate technology, training, and guidelines. Human rights monitors, rehabilitation organisations, and civil society also often lack the evidence necessary to hold those complicit in torture to account, and to prevent future occurrences.

This Guide is a response to this gap, presenting an overview of the different types of weapons and equipment currently used by law enforcement and security personnel around the world, and highlights the human rights issues surrounding their use. It is a practical tool to enable policy makers, human rights monitors, and journalists to recognise the equipment as well as highlight and question its use.

In this Guide, there is a focus on specialist law enforcement and security weapons and equipment. Nonetheless, improvised, ad-hoc or personal equipment, such as sticks, shoes, and rope, are also used by law enforcement officers for torture and other ill-treatment. It is important to document, investigate, and highlight any instances of torture or other ill-treatment.