Leo, Police interrogation and American justice. Harvard University Press, Later, in the s, following the use of highly explosive Chinese-made tear grenades by US forces in Vietnam, at the 21st Session of the United Nations, the Hungarian delegation tabled a proposal to have use of tear gas listed as chemical weapon, and thereby its use an international crime see D.
The US dismissed this as communist propaganda, and insisted on the accepted use of tear gas around the world for law enforcement. While there are a myriad of forces at play in keeping the trade in less-lethals poorly regulated, a major force shaping legislation and policy around this equipment dates back to Northern Ireland in the late s. In a hour standoff with the police, Bogside residents faced a barrage of 14 grenades and 1, cartridges containing The gas entered homes, indiscriminately harming children and the elderly.
Riot Control Agents, Tasers, and Other Less Lethal Weapons
Media reports sent waves of public outcry, leading to the first wide-scale medical investigation into the effects of CS tear gas. An investigation was conducted between by a group of medical experts led by the highly regarded doctor, Sir Harold Himsworth. While the Himsworth Committee was deemed independent, all of its members had military ties. One even worked as a researcher for the Ministry of Defence. This approach was derived from the United States, where testing and development at Edgewood Arsenal followed such clinical protocol. Those people keen to promote and profit from the proliferation of less-lethal gases for law enforcement were keen to keep this class of chemical agents separate from regulations surrounding both small arms and chemical warfare.
Despite the testimony of local general physicians in Northern Ireland who accounted for various injuries and ill health effects, the Himsworth Committee found no reason to condemn the use of CS tear gas. See discussion of the Himsworth report in United States.
Riot Control Agents: The Case for Regulation
Committee on Government Reform and Oversight, Investigation into the activities of federal law enforcement agencies toward the Branch Davidians: thirteenth report Washington: U. In fact, two years before the final report was released, the British Society for Social Responsibility in Science pre-emptively criticised the enquiry. But Himsworth had no interest in human experience. The final report treated bodily reactions as side effects; as if they were the result of personal dysfunctions or rare allergies to an everyday product, rather than human bodies responding to air poisoned by chemical weapons.
Despite objections from within the medical community, for the next two decades the Himsworth Committee report served as a key justification for the international community to continue its deployment and development of riot control agents. Most clinical trials of tear gas—and later those of other less-lethal weapons—were conducted in highly secretive, defence research establishments like Edgewood Arsenal US and Porton Down United Kingdom.
This meant that the motivations shaping the study of human impacts of these weapons were determined by military priorities—designed to defend against the enemy combatant, not protect civilians. In addition, these studies were often highly classified and not available to anyone without high levels of security clearance. This means that those in the medical community are unable to scrutinise the studies upon which claims to the safety of less-lethals are based.
Riot Control Agents: The Case for Regulation - Sur - International Journal on Human Rights
While incidents of human rights abuses using less-lethal weapons sometimes entered policy and public debate, the mantra of the Himsworth Committee remained the dominant position. In a June report, Amnesty International recorded up to 40 deaths resulting from tear gas, as well as thousands of cases of illness. According to the report, as part of their operations, Israeli forces had thrown tear gas into houses, clinics, schools, hospitals and mosques, often deploying it in residential areas with children and elderly people.
United States, Use of U. In the s, CS tear gas and pepper sprays proliferated. The mass production of aerosol dispensers made these control agents mobile, coming in handheld form, strapped to the equipment belts of security and law enforcement officers. In the s aerosol pepper sprays began to be deployed to police across the US.
See for example Charles M. Soon after, similar handheld sprays of CS tear gas were dispatched to police across the globe.
In a catalogue for the Milipol Security Expo, Israeli manufacturer ISPRA explained this blurry line between drugs and weapons, introducing its new line of pepper spray:. Once dispensed from our Protectojet it becomes an effective deterrent device.
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Omega Research Foundation Archives. In other words, Lake Erie used the unregulated status of tear gas to help market the product as a tool for law enforcement.
Theo M. This apparent harmlessness meant that police did not need to wait for orders or for violence to break out before deploying the weapon. In the post World War One period promotional writing on tear gas struck a careful balance between selling pain and promising harmlessness. The psychological impacts set tear gas apart from bullets, working to demoralise and disperse a crowd, without firing live ammunition. Through sensory torture, tear gas forces people to retreat. These features pronounced the novelty value of tear gas in a market where previously only the truncheon and bullets were available to officers.
The invisibility and ephemerality of tear gas would also provide for better police-public relations. Instead of traces of blood and bruises, tear gas evaporates from the scene, its damage so much less pronounced on the surface of the skin, or in the lens of the camera.
National and international pressure to appear democratic and humane exists alongside civil unrest around the impacts of climate change, austerity, war and growing wealth inequalities. A business information company, Visiongain, published its market report for police equipment. As smaller manufacturers team up with larger ones, both horizontal and vertical integration are taking place in the industry.
Currently, many African and Middle Eastern countries are embracing less-lethals. Since riot control agents are tolerated and regularly deployed by leading Western powers, and often promoted by Western democracies, countries can generally use them to suppress protest without coming under too much international scrutiny. Even in countries like Bahrain, Turkey and Brazil, where human rights groups have condemned the abusive and excessive use of riot control, little has been done to hold governments, police departments or corporate manufacturers accountable.
Because less-lethal weapons are not well regulated under international law or trade policies, it remains relatively easy for security forces to acquire large quantities of them without public scrutiny or human rights oversight. For both formats the functionality available will depend on how you access the ebook via Bookshelf Online in your browser or via the Bookshelf app on your PC or mobile device.
Stay on CRCPress. Preview this Book. Olajos, Woodhall Stopford, M. Add to Wish List. Close Preview. Toggle navigation Additional Book Information. Description Table of Contents. Summary The proliferation and sophistication of riot control chemicals mean that all parties need to understand the responsible use and effects of such compounds. This book provides practical information on the history, chemistry, and biology of riot control agents and discusses their biological actions, risk assessment issues, and recent technical developments.
Chapters include information on chemical analysis, toxicology, pharmacology, risk management, and environmental issues. Emerging concepts, trends, and technologies are also discussed in detail.
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