Front cover of report showing instruments of restraint and other law enforcement equipment.
Front cover of report showing instruments of restraint and other law enforcement equipment.
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The Human Rights Impact of Law Enforcement Equipment

Joint Amnesty-Omega report detailing risks associated with less lethal weapons and other law enforcement equipment used in policing and corrections work.

This paper focuses on a selection of less lethal law enforcement weapons and equipment commonly used in places of detention and in the policing of protests in the following five categories: restraints, kinetic impact devices, chemical irritants (including riot control agents), electric shock devices, and other technologies such as acoustic devices. It includes those commonly used for, or that have no other purpose than, torture or other ill-treatment. In each category it assesses whether the equipment has particular physical/medical effects, specific human rights concerns, and whether it has a legitimate use and, if so, the necessary controls that should apply to prevent misuse, or whether the use of the device should be prohibited outright or suspended pending further research by independent experts. The paper also highlights that it is necessary to look not just at how a particular weapon or restraint is used, but also at whether, and to what extent, it should be made available for use in the first place. It concludes by listing a number of cross-cutting issues common to many, if not all, equipment and restraints included in this paper. It also highlights how some categories of weapons, such as body worn electric shock devices, spiked batons and thumb-cuffs, have no legitimate law enforcement purpose and should never be issued to law enforcement officials.

This report is intended to inform this process by highlighting existing failings of the control regime through contemporary case studies and by providing realistic and workable policy solutions to these often complex technical issues.

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