Visual Glossary

Recording and identifying military, security and police (MSP) equipment used in human rights violations, torture and ill-treatment might provide the only evidence to prove that the incident happened and help identify the perpetrators. However, there is a lack of reporting “tools” to help people do this. This glossary is designed to help human rights monitors, researchers, campaigners and journalists recognise the different types of equipment used by law enforcement officers and accurately report on the equipment.

We recommend that the glossary is used in conjunction with Mispo.org (www.mispo.org), an image database which contains more information about the equipment featured in this glossary and Amnesty International’s Monitoring and Investigating Equipment Used in Human Rights Abuses.

What is covered in this glossary?

This glossary is split into sections, with each section covering a different type or “group” of equipment. “Groups” of equipment covered in this glossary include: electric shock equipment, restraints, launchers for chemical irritants, kinetic impact and other munitions, chemical irritants, and kinetic impact weapons (launched & handheld).

Please note that although these “groups” of equipment are often referred to as “less lethal” or “less than lethal”, they can still cause serious injuries and death, even when used as the manufacturer intended.

As with all types of technology, MSP equipment changes over time so this glossary will be periodically reviewed and updated to include new and emerging MSP technologies. 

Further information on the categories of the equipment can be found here and a table of all the terms used English, French, Spanish, Arabic, Russian and Chinese can be found here.

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Identification Tools

A remote controlled device with capabilities to deliver electric shocks. Designed to be worn around the waist, arm, leg or ankle. Remote control activation varies between models but can be up to 100m / 328 feet.
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A remote controlled device visually similar to prisoner tracking / tagging devices but with capabilities to deliver electric shocks. Plastic cuff and stun device attaches to the ankle.
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A small pistol-shaped weapon which holds a cartridge which fires two darts attached to wires up to 5 metres and delivers an electric shock to the target causing severe pain and collapse.
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A complex system which fires Taser cartridges controlled via a wire from a distance. Cartridges can be stacked 3 high and in an almost endless number wide. Can be fitted at entrances as a permanent fixture.
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A small pistol-shaped weapon which holds a cartridge which fires two darts attached to wires up to 35 feet / 10 metres and delivers an electric shock to the target causing severe pain and collapse. Can also be used as a stun gun in direct contact (“drive stun” mode).
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A small pistol-shaped weapon which holds 3 cartridges which each fire two darts attached to wires and delivers an electric shock to the target causing severe pain and collapse. The 3 cartridges can be fired immediately one after the other either into one target or multiple targets
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A long range kinetic impact / projectile stun weapon fired from a standard 40mm grenade launcher. The round breaks apart on impact administering an electric shock resulting in severe pain and collapse. At the time of writing (2011), this product was still in development.
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A long range kinetic impact / projectile stun weapon with 4 barbed electrodes. The XREP is fired from a shotgun – either a standard 12 gauge or the specially produced X12. The round breaks apart on impact administering an electric shock resulting in severe pain and collapse. These are no longer sold by Taser, however they may still be in use with some police forces
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Usually have 2 or 4 electrodes on the tip Some have electrode strips of metal along the length of the baton. Some have a spiral of metal around the baton along the length. Some only have electrodes on the tip. Can look identical to “normal” batons i.e. non-stun batons except for a switch and small electrodes on the tip.
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Extendible baton – usually extends to 2 or 3 times retracted length. Some have 2 or 4 electrodes on the tip. Some have electrode strips of metal along the length of the baton. Some only have electrodes on the tip.
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4 metal electrodes. Some can also spray chemical irritants. There are many different designs / sizes / shapes available.
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2 metal electrodes (sometimes 4). Some can spray chemical irritants. There are many different designs / sizes / shapes available.
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Designed for the civilian / self-defence market. Eight metal electrodes on a “handle-shaped” stun gun. Easy to grip.
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Available in both concave for pinning a subject to the floor / a wall and convex designs - circular, rectangular and square shields are/have been on the market. Features one or many electrodes / sparking points. Additional metal spikes bolted onto some models.
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Available in both convex – circular, rectangular and square shields – and concave for pinning a subject to the floor / a wall are/have been on the market. Features one or many electrodes / sparking points. Additional metal spikes bolted onto some models.
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Usually have 2 or 4 electrodes on the tip which can be hidden under a removable cover / disguised as a torch. Visually similar to a “normal” – i.e. non-stunning – torch / flashlight.
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