(Washington) More than 120,000 people have been injured by tear gas canisters or bullets fired by police during protests around the world since 2015, according to a report released Wednesday.
The medical association Physicians for Human Rights, the International Network of Civil Rights Organizations (Inclo) and the British foundation Omega have gone through the medical reports drawn up, among other things, during the movement of yellow vests in France, anti-racist parades Black Lives Matter or pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong and Burma.
Based on this inevitably fragmented information, their report “Lethal in disguise” describes the health impact of non-lethal weapons used by police around the world in the face of “the legitimate exercise of a democratic right “.
According to the report, tear gas canisters and other chemical irritants have injured 119,113 people over the past seven years, 4% of whom required hospitalization or surgery. At least fourteen people have died after inhaling these gases.
So-called “defensive” projectiles, including rubber bullets, injured 2,190 people, 65% of them in the eyes. At least 945 have lifelong sequelae and 12 died following this impact, count its authors who also describe the consequences of stun grenades, water cannons or truncheons.
For them, the forces of order, including in democratic countries, tend to abuse their force in the face of the protest movements which have multiplied since the beginning of the 21st century.
Instead of dispersing the crowds, “this often leads to renewed tensions and an escalation of conflicts”, they regret, recommending better regulation of these weapons, better training of officers in their use and not to use them in a way indiscriminate.
“I’ve been working on crowd control weapons and their impact for ten years, and I continue to be appalled by the lack of data and transparency from manufacturers,” commented emergency physician Rohini Haar, lead author of the report.
Despite their frequent use around the world, “there is no significant regulation or requirement to record data for police forces in the vast majority of countries,” she also lamented in a statement.