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

Material used to cover the eyes, sometimes the entire face, designed to eliminate all vision. Can deny all sensory stimuli. Sometimes especially made items are used, other times old sacks or cloth is used.
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Two metal plates each with 4 finger holes and joined by a single / short chain-link.
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Designed to attach handcuffs to leg cuffs to further restrict movement. Any cuffs can be used in the combination
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Large metal “collar” with metal handcuffs attached via short chain-link.
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3 cuffs all attached to the same small ring. Allows subject to be cuffed to a fixed object or cuffed closely to multiple subjects. A ratchet allows for use on a range of wrist sizes.
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Two cuffs connected by a short chain. A ratchet allows for use on a range of wrist sizes.
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Two cuffs connected by a solid bar. Can be snapped quickly over a wrist to “capture” a target. A ratchet allows for use on a range of wrist sizes.
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Two cuffs connected by hinges. A ratchet allows for use on a range of wrist sizes.
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Larger size cuff. Could be used as leg cuffs albeit with a short chain. A ratchet allows for use on a range of wrist / ankle sizes.
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Resembles a plastic “cable tie” (which are also used).
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Two cuffs (usually larger than handcuffs) attached by a chain – up to 30cm – to allow subject some movement.
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Two cuffs (usually larger than handcuffs) attached by a chain to allow subject some movement.
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Can weigh up to 8kg (approx. 17.5lbs). Currently traded in China.
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Often craft made or older models – a rigid metal bar connects two rings.
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Fabric belt with metal grips Can be used on ankles, wrists, waists etc. or as part of a restraint bed / board.
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Can include a number of different restraint points. Most common 8 points of restraint (a combination of which can be used at any one time) includes: 2x ankle, 2x wrist, 2x shoulder, 1x waist, and 1x chest.
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Various models exist. US models tend to have straps, cuffs or material restraints at wrists, ankles, waist, chest or shoulders. Chinese models tend to be in the style of a child's high chair with metal handcuffs and leg restraints attaching the subject to a chair with a lockable metal table or tray.
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Various models exist. US models tend to have straps, cuffs or material restraints at wrists, ankles, waist, chest or shoulders. Chinese models tend to be in the style of a child's high chair with metal handcuffs and leg restraints attaching the subject to a chair with a lockable metal table or tray.
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Two small cuffs connected by a solid metal bar. Some cuffs are internally serrated
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Metal handcuffs attached to a leather waist-worn belt for use whilst transporting subjects.
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A single cuff that be anchored to a wall or other fixed object. Less common, but also available, is a double wall cuff (see below)
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Fabric / velcro straps that fold round the legs / arms / body of a suspect – designed to reduce the ability of the suspect to kick / punch.
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