Rights chief asks France to stop using riot guns

- Agence France-Presse, PARIS

Jan 18, 2019-

France’s rights chief called on Thursday for the government to suspend use of riot guns which have reportedly injured dozens of people during the “yellow vest” protests over the past two months.

French police are equipped with so-called defence ball launchers (LBDs) that shoot 40-millimetre (1.6-inch) rubber and foam rounds that are used in riot-control operations.

Often called Flash Balls after the name of one producer of such weapons, they are designed to not penetrate the skin while still packing enough power to stop individuals from advancing.

But such “less lethal” weapons have been blamed for several serious injuries in recent years, including protesters who have lost an eye after being hit by the rounds in the head.

On Saturday in the southwestern city of Bordeaux a volunteer firefighter participating in a yellow vest demonstration was struck in the temple, putting him in a coma from which he has yet to awaken.“Let’s remove the hazardous risks of these weapons by suspending their use,” Jacques Toubon, head of France’s independent human rights authority, said at a press conference in Paris.

Toubon said the government should focus on “preventing rather than treating” injuries from the use of riot guns during the protests.

Published: 18-01-2019 10:59

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