UN: Tasers “a form of torture”

November 25, 2007 in information, news by Rob Hallam

A UN committee has recommended that police forces give up the use of Tasers:

The use of these weapons causes acute pain, constituting a form of torture… In certain cases, they can even cause death, as has been shown by reliable studies and recent real-life events

Though the recommendations were directed at Portugal, who has recently bought the new X26 model for their police force, they are likely to be felt worldwide if they mean that the use of Tasers contravenes the Convention against Torture (1984). The recommendations come in the weeks following the deaths of 6 men in North America who died after being Tasered.

Less than two weeks ago in the UK, the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) decided that there would be no criminal charge against the armed police officers who twice Tasered a man on a bus in Leeds who had gone into a diabetic coma. Nicholas Gaubert has said that he is suffering from severe post-traumatic stress as a result of the incident, where a ‘real’ firearm was being pointed at his head as he was being shocked. Mr Gaubert said he was told the police believed he looked “Egyptian”.

The use of Tasers as a first line of action – instead of a non-lethal alternative to firearms – is becoming problematic. Larry Cox, Executive Director of Amnesty Internation USA said,

The danger of Tasers is that they seem safe, they seem easy and therefore I think it’s natural that police will be inclined to use them much more quickly than they would ever use a gun

The recent deaths indicate that Tasers are anything but safe; but as they are still easy, they are prone to being misused.