New Amnesty International study on stun guns
On 16 December 2008, the human rights organisation Amnesty International released a detailed report on the safety of the stun gun. The number of people who died after being struck by Tasers in the USA reached 334 between 2001 and August 2008. Amnesty International calls on governments to limit their deployment to life-threatening situations or to suspend their use.
«Tasers are not the 'non-lethal' weapons they are portrayed to be, » said Angela Wright, US researcher at Amnesty International and author of the report. «They can kill and should only be used as a last resort. The problem with Tasers is that they are inherently open to abuse, as they are easy to carry and easy to use and can inflict severe pain at the push of a button, without leaving substantial marks. »
In a declaration dated March 2003, the UN Committee against torture said that the use of stun guns provokes terrible sufferings, thus being a sort of torture and could, under certain circumstances, be lethal. It recommended to consider this type of weapon as potentially lethal and to not use it against persons with respiratory or cardiac problems. The report presents cases where the police officers also used Tasers on schoolchildren, pregnant women and even an elderly person with dementia.
Situation in Switzerland
In Switzerland, the Technical Commission of the Swiss Polices declared itself favourable to the use of Tasers in 2007, even if its consequences had not been rigorously studied by independent experts in the areas of medical and law application. Following this opinion, the cantonal police of several Swiss cantons decided to introduce the sun guns.
Read also: Unified Use of Police Constraint Includes Stun Guns , Article on humanrights.ch, November 2008
- Tasers – potentially lethal and easy to abuse
Press Release by Amnesty International, 16 December 2008
- Less than lethal: The use of stun weapons in US law enforcement (pdf, 130 pages)
Amnesty International report, December 2008