FeesMustFall

 

SERI made written comments on the draft Geneva Guidelines on Less-Lethal Weapons and related Equipment in Law Enforcement to the Geneva Academy and the Institute for International and Comparative Law in Africa (University of Pretoria). These draft set of Guidelines relate to the lawful and responsible design, production, procurement, testing, training, transfer, and use of less-lethal weapons and related equipment.

The purpose of these Guidelines is to provide guidance to states, law enforcement agencies, human rights bodies and mechanisms, private security companies, manufacturers, and individuals or agents of any bodies using force for law enforcement purposes, human rights defenders, and individuals seeking to assert their rights on the lawful and responsible design, production, procurement, testing, training, transfer, and use of less-lethal weapons and related equipment.

This draft document aims to build upon, the United Nations (UN) Code of Conduct for Law Enforcement Officials and the UN Basic Principles on the Use of Force and Firearms by Law Enforcement Officials.

SERI welcomes and concurs with the broad aims of the draft Guidelines in the following aspects: 

  • FeesMustFall2To ensure accountability for the design, production, testing, transfer, deployment and use of such weapons. 
  • That there are risks of harm, including serious or even fatal injuries, where Less Lethal Weapons (LLWs) “are not used in accordance with specifications, general principles on the use of force, and fundamental human rights”; and 
  • That the intention of the Guidelinesis to promote amongst a wide range of users of LLWs “accountability for the design, production, testing, transfer, deployment and use of such weapons”
  • That in the conduct of law enforcement operations, the duty of law enforcement agencies is to “facilitate” and protect the right of peaceful assembly. 
  • That the Guidelines has included a strong iteration of the general principles on the use of force by law enforcement officials, involving legality, necessity, proportionality, non-discrimination and the principle of pre-caution
  • That the Guidelines have provided indicators for steps to entrench the accountability of law enforcement officials for “any decision to use force”, with the steps required including: 

In SERI’s experience the failure by the authorities to ensure that the above accountability measures are implemented systematically or at all, including at the level of internal post-operation reviews and lesson-learning, leaves victims of the unlawful use of force further traumatised and potentially discouraged from exercising their rights.

  • Read SERI's submission here
  • Read the draft set of guidline here.