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Crowd Control Techniques: Perspectives on the Type and Use of Weapons by Police Around the World

Freedom of speech, freedom of peaceful assembly and the right to protest are fundamental human rights; enshrined in both international law and in the national laws or constitutions of nearly every State. Despite these legal protections, there is a tendency across the globe to label entire assemblies as violent and use less lethal weapons to disperse them. This Chapter examines the weapons most frequently used by police against public assemblies in past two decades. Focussing on striking weapons (batons), chemical irritants, kinetic impact projectiles and stun grenades, the Chapter uses examples from various countries to illustrate how these weapons are being used and the associated human rights and health impacts.

Worrying trends identified include the use of dangerous or untested equipment, such as thermal foggers to deploy chemical irritants; the use of inherently abusive weapons, such as whips or sjamboks; and the increasing use of certain types of munitions, specifically indiscriminate kinetic impact projectiles. The Chapter seeks to demonstrate the importance of medical and forensic professionals being familiar with the weapons being used in the countries they practice in, the effects of those weapons, and being aware of the clinical aspects in the presentation and care of those exposed.

This chapter appears in Forensic and Legal Medicine: Clinical and Pathological Aspects (2023)

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