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'My Eye Exploded': New Amnesty International report on use of 'non-lethal weapons'

Police officer firing rubber bullets
Police officer firing rubber bullets Copyright JAAFAR ASHTIYEH/AFP or licensors
Copyright JAAFAR ASHTIYEH/AFP or licensors
By Isabella Jewell
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Amnesty International released a new report today, which documents the use of “non-lethal” anti-riot weapons by police across the globe, and calls for global regulation of their use and manufacture.

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Amnesty International released a new report today, entitled “My Eye Exploded”: The global abuse of Kinetic Impact Projectiles, which documents the use of “non-lethal” anti-riot weapons by police across the globe.

The report found that the deployment of Kinetic Impact Projectiles (KIPs), a term which encompasses a variety of weapons including plastic and rubber bullets, has led to “thousands of injuries across the world – including permanent disabilities and scores of deaths”.

Along with 30 other organisations, Amnesty International called for the creation of a “robust Torture-Free Trade Treaty” to ban the use of “inherently abusive law enforcement equipment”, and to restrict the trade of such weapons, given the “gaps” that exist in current legislation.

After spending five years researching the impact of KIPs in over 30 countries, Amnesty International found that thousands of protesters and bystanders have been injured, and dozens killed as a result of authorities using these weapons.

Amnesty International concluded that in many cases, KIPs have been used “as a tool of intimidation and punishment against peaceful protesters”, given the “waves of repression from police and military forces” in recent years.

The NGO also examined the unlawful use of tear gas grenades fired into crowds, which it described as a “disturbing global trend that has led to hundreds of serious injuries and some deaths”.

Throughout the report, Amnesty lists examples of injuries suffered by protesters, for example, that of a demonstrator in Minneapolis, who told the NGO that their eye “exploded” and their nose was dislocated after they were hit in the face by a rubber bullet. They told Amnesty that they now have a prosthetic eye, so can only see out of their right eye.

This was one of a score of injuries documented during the Black Lives Matter protests in Minneapolis in 2020, with hospitals logging 45 patients with rubber bullet injuries, 10 with eye trauma and 16 with traumatic brain injuries.

Metal pellets were also found to have been used by some police forces across the world, and have been associated with deaths and cases of blinding in Egypt, India and Iran.

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