1) States must ensure, in law and in practice, that they resort to the use of force only against violent protests, and only when strictly necessary and in proportion to the threat of violence. The use of force will only be considered necessary where all other means of de-escalation and preventing further violence have been exhausted.

2) Any deployment of lethal and less-lethal weapons should be authorised by the highest-ranking official on the site and exercised only by fully trained law enforcement officers subject to effective regulation, monitoring and control. Before using lethal and less-lethal weapons, law enforcement officials should give a clear warning of their intent to do so, with sufficient time for the warning to be observed, unless that would unduly place them or others at risk of death or serious harm, or would be clearly inappropriate or pointless in the circumstances.

3) Where the use of less-lethal weapons is unavoidable, law enforcement officials must avoid causing serious injury and minimise harm. In particular:

a) Baton blows aimed at the head, neck and throat, spine, lower back, solar plexus, knees, ankles and vital body parts must be prohibited;

b) Less-lethal projectile weapons must not be used in a way that poses a risk of impact to the head, chest or abdomen, and must not be discharged with so much force that they cause perforation of a person’s ‘body wall’ (the external surface of the body, which encases the body cavity) or other unnecessary injury;

c) Where chemical irritants and other forceful or chemical crowd control agents are used, decontamination procedures must be established;

d) Modification of the chemical composition of any gas for the sole purpose of causing protesters, and indirectly bystanders, severe pain must be prohibited.

4) Law enforcement officials must not use lethal force, including firearms, against a protest or to disperse a protest. Such measures must be used only when strictly unavoidable in order to protect life, that is, against individuals either in self-defence or in the defence of others under imminent threat of death or serious injury, or to arrest a person presenting such a danger and resisting arrest, and only when less harmful means are insufficient to achieve these objectives.

5) Law enforcement officials must ensure that anyone injured or affected as a result of the use of force receives assistance and medical aid at the earliest possible moment, and must report the incident promptly to superiors who must ensure an effective review carried out by independent administrative or prosecutorial authorities who have the power to exercise authority where appropriate.

6) States must establish a system for monitoring the use of force, which must include a requirement for law enforcement officials to report any use of it. Documentation about the use of force should be made available to the public.

7)  Superior officers who know, or should know, that officers under their command have resorted to the unlawful use of force must be responsible for any violations where they did not take all measures in their power to prevent, suppress or report excessive force.

To comment in detail on state duties regarding the use of force, click here

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