Cases of the appalling misuse of tear gas by security forces during the brutal crackdown on protests in Iran, Peru and Sri Lanka last year are some of the many incidents he denounces. Amnesty International on its interactive website.
This interactive website now includes data on 30 new incidents in 13 countries in which police and security forces caused damage due to the inappropriate use of tear gas.
Since the 2020 launch of this website, Webby Award recipient, Amnesty International has verified incidents of tear gas misuse in more than 115 countries and territories, including the USA, France, Guatemala, India, Israel/Occupied Palestinian Territories, Lebanon, Mali, Myanmar, Nigeria, Serbia, Sudan, Tunisia. and Uganda.
“Year after year, Amnesty International continues to document dangerous and reckless uses of tear gas around the world,” said Marija Ristic, Director of Amnesty International’s Digital Verification Corps.
“People have taken to the streets to protest to demand respect for their human rights, and the response has been the use of unnecessary violence or excessive force, which in many cases has included the unlawful use of tear gas.
“Authorities around the world must respect the right to peaceful protest and hold to account anyone who unlawfully uses tear gas against people exercising their basic human rights.”
The ongoing campaign Let’s Protect Amnesty International Protest it is also documenting attacks on peaceful protests in solidarity with those who are being attacked and in support of social movements pressing for change in human rights around the world.
During 2022, Iranian authorities systematically applied a militarized response local and national protests, using live ammunition, pellets, tear gas and water cannons to crush largely peaceful protests. Hundreds of protesters and bystanders were unlawfully killed by security forces, including dozens of children. A 6-year-old girl died after being hit in the head with a tear gas canister. Thousands of people suffered serious injuries, including loss of vision, for which many did not seek medical attention for fear of arrest.
During widespread protests that began in Peru in December 2022, the Peruvian armed forces and National Police unlawfully fired lethal weapons and used other less-lethal weapons against the population, especially indigenous people and peasants. This unlawful use of force caused 49 deaths due to state repression until February 2023. The protests were mostly peaceful, but data indicated that the police and military recklessly fired bullets, pellets and tear gas, killing or injuring bystanders, protesters and those providing first aid to injured people.
In Sri Lanka, the government intensified its crackdown on dissent as thousands of people protested against the serious economic situation of the country. The misuse of tear gas and water cannon became common in the response to demonstrations, affecting protesters and bystanders, including children. These tactics caused at least one death in a protest in July 2022.
And in Ukraine, Russian security forces fired tear gas at peaceful protesters who took to the streets in Kherson in April 2022 to demand an end to the Russian occupation of the city.
Amnesty International’s Crisis Response Program Evidence Laboratory began investigating tear gas misuse in 2019, primarily through analysis of videos posted on social media. Using investigative methods based on publicly available sources, the organization identified and verified instances of tear gas misuse and confirmed the location, date, and validity. The analysis was carried out by the Amnesty International Digital Verification Corpsa network of students from five universities on four continents trained in verifying videos and photographs of potential human rights violations stemming from conflicts and crises around the world.
Amnesty International has documented multiple forms of misuse of tear gas by police, including: firing it in enclosed spaces; shoot it directly at people; use it in excessive amounts; fire it against peaceful demonstrations, and fire it against groups that are less likely to flee or are more sensitive to its effects, such as minors, the elderly and people with disabilities.
Despite widespread misuse, international regulations on trade in tear gas and other chemical irritants have not been agreed Very few States provide public information on the volume and destination of tear gas exports, making independent monitoring difficult .
Amnesty International and the Omega Research Foundation They have campaigned for more than two decades for greater controls on the production, trade and use of tear gas and other weapons and law enforcement equipment. As a consequence, the European Union has introduced controls on trade in some types of material, and the UN and the Council of Europe have recognized the need to regulate the export of law enforcement material that can be used to inflict torture and other ills. deals.
Thanks to the high-level diplomatic advocacy work carried out by the more than 60 States that make up the Alliance for Torture-Free Trade, with the support of an international coalition of civil society organizations, the UN is studying the possible development controls on international trade in law enforcement equipment – including tear gas – to prevent its use to commit torture or other ill-treatment. In January 2023, Amnesty International and more than 30 NGOs came together to sign the Shoreditch Declarationwhich calls for the establishment of an international treaty to control the trade in the instruments of torture that are used around the world to suppress peaceful protests and abuse detainees.
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