European Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CPT) CPT/Inf(2010)28-part Electrical discharge weapons Extract from the 20th General Report of the CPT, published in 2010 Preliminary remarks 65. It is becoming increasingly common in countries visited by the CPT for police officers and other law enforcement officials to be issued with electrical discharge weapons (EDW), and the presence of such devices in places of detention (in particular prisons) has also been observed by the Committee in certain countries. There are various types of EDW, ranging from electric shock batons and other hand-held weapons requiring direct contact with the person who is the intended target to weapons capable of delivering dart-like projectiles which administer an electric shock to a person located at some distance. 66. The use of EDW by law enforcement and other public officials is a controversial subject. There are conflicting views as regards both the specific circumstances in which resort to such weapons can be justified and the potential negative effects on health that the weapons can cause. It is also a fact that by their very nature, EDW lend themselves to misuse. The CPT has on several occasions gathered credible evidence that such weapons have been exploited to inflict severe illtreatment on persons deprived of their liberty, and the Committee has frequently received allegations that detained persons have been threatened with ill-treatment via the use of EDW. 67. The CPT has already addressed the issue of EDW in several of its visit reports. In the following paragraphs, the Committee wishes to highlight the positions it has adopted to date and indicate some areas of concern. The CPT would welcome comments on this section of its General Report, so as to help the Committee develop its standards in relation to this complex subject. General principles 68. The CPT understands the wish of national authorities to provide their law enforcement officials with means enabling them to give a more graduated response to dangerous situations with which they are confronted. There is no doubt that the possession of less lethal weapons such as EDW may in some cases make it possible to avoid recourse to firearms. However, electrical discharge weapons can cause acute pain and, as already indicated, they are open to abuse. Consequently, any decision to issue law enforcement officials or other public servants with EDW should be the result of a thorough debate at the level of the country’s national executive and legislature. Further, the criteria for deploying EDW should be both defined by law and spelt out in specific regulations.

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