Misuse of Tear Gas by Police Can Kill Peaceful Protesters 

Police fire large quantities of tear gas into the streets as they chase a group of protesters during protests in Santiago, Chile on 8 November 2019. Photo: Amnesty International
Police fire large quantities of tear gas into the streets as they chase a group of protesters during protests in Santiago, Chile on 8 November 2019. Photo: Amnesty International

Misuse of Tear Gas by Police Can Kill Peaceful Protesters 

Amnesty has verified recent incidents of tear gas misuse in several countries, including France, Guatemala, India, Mali, Nigeria, Peru, Serbia and Tunisia.

Amnesty International published today (February 1) new evidence of the misuse of tear gas by security forces in several countries in the second half of 2020, including during protests around the election in Uganda, the Black Lives Matter movement in the USA, and in the repression of protesters in Lebanon. 

The organization’s interactive website Tear Gas: An Investigation has been updated to include new cases of police committing human rights violations against peaceful protesters around the world.

Since first launching the site in June 2020, Amnesty International has verified recent incidents of tear gas misuse in several countries, including France, Guatemala, India, Mali, Nigeria, Peru, Serbia and Tunisia.

“The ongoing misuse of tear gas by police forces around the world is reckless and dangerous, often injuring and sometimes even killing peaceful protesters,” said Patrick Wilcken, Deputy Director of Amnesty International’s Global Issues Programme.

Amnesty says its updated analysis is further proof that security forces continue to misuse this less lethal weapon on a massive scale. Far too often in 2020, peaceful protesters were met with violence, including the widespread, unlawful use of tear gas, which can amount to torture or other ill-treatment in certain circumstances.

“We are again calling on authorities worldwide to respect the right to peaceful protest, and hold to account those who used tear gas unlawfully against people exercising this right,” Amnesty said.

The update includes 27 new events in 12 countries where tear gas has been misused, with open source investigators verifying the location and date of each instance, and assessing its lawfulness. In total, the website now includes videos of more than 100 incidents of tear gas misuse from 31 countries and territories.

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Rakesh Raman