Amnesty International said Tuesday that restrictions on the international trade in rubber bullets and other weapons used by riot police and security personnel are necessary to lower the incidence of fatalities and injuries among peaceful protestors.
The group argued that security forces all over the world routinely misuse rubber and plastic bullets and other law enforcement weapons to violently put down peaceful protests, leading to life-altering injuries and fatalities. They also called for the creation of a U.N.-backed “Torture Free Trade Treaty” and strict controls on their use.
Amnesty’s call comes after a five-year investigation into more than 30 countries found that “often reckless and disproportionate use of less lethal law enforcement weaponry, including kinetic impact projectiles, such as rubber bullets, as well as the firing of rubberized buckshot, and tear gas grenades aimed and fired directly at demonstrators,” has resulted in thousands of protestors being maimed and dozens being killed.
Patrick Wilcken, researcher for Amnesty International on military, security, and policing issues, stated: “We believe that legally-binding global controls on the manufacture and trade in less lethal weapons, including KIPS, along with effective guidelines on the use of force, are urgently needed to combat an escalating cycle of abuses.
The report, which was produced in cooperation with Omega Research Foundation, documents what it said was an alarming increase in eye injuries, including eyeball ruptures, retinal detachments and total sight loss.
Other injuries include bone and skull fractures, brain injuries, the rupture of internal organs and hemorrhaging, punctured hearts and lungs from broken ribs, damage to genitalia, and psychological trauma.
According to an evaluation by Chile’s National Institute for Human Rights, police actions during protests which began in October 2019 resulted in more than 440 eye injuries, with over 30 cases of eye loss, or ocular rupture.