Amnesty International welcomes SNP Taser debate

Amnesty International Press Release

Embargo: 00:01 hrs Friday 17th April (can be used for Friday editions)

Amnesty International welcomes SNP Taser debate

Amnesty International has welcomed the forthcoming debate on Tasers at SNP Conference this weekend.

Speaking ahead of the conference debate on Saturday 19 April, John Watson, the organisation's Scottish Programme Director, welcomed a motion calling on the SNP to oppose any wider deployment of electro-shock weapons to non-specialist police forces.

Amnesty International is campaigning against extending the use of Tasers, and has urged the Scottish Government not to follow the example of police forces in England and Wales – ten of which have issued Tasers to police officers with just three days training in their use, as part of a 12 month trial.

Commenting ahead of the SNP Conference, John Watson said:

"Amnesty International is calling on the Scottish Government not to follow the path taken by police forces in England and Wales on the issue of Tasers. These electro-shock weapons are extremely dangerous, and potentially lethal. We are concerned about the safety of Tasers, and also their potential for misuse."

"Experience from around the world, particularly the USA and Canada, shows that where Tasers have been widely deployed to police officers, there are many documented cases of their misuse. This includes instances of police officers shocking sleeping suspects to wake them, using Tasers on suspects to avoid giving chase, examples of Children's rights being shocked by the weapons, and of police officers inflicting multiple shocks on individuals. The wider deployment to police officers here would inevitably risk similar human rights violations."

"Amnesty International recognises concerns for the safety of police officers in our communities, but we believe the current situation – with specially trained officers having access to Tasers - is the right balance. The police have a duty to protect themselves and our communities from violent situations. However, arming more police officers with these potentially lethal weapons – without the rigorous training and safeguards that are needed – far from enhancing community safety, could undermine the relationship between police officers and the communities they serve and ultimately make Scotland’s streets more dangerous."

"Amnesty International is calling on the Scottish Government to rule out any further deployment of Tasers beyond their current use by specially trained firearms officers, and we therefore welcome the debate on this issue at SNP Conference.

"-ENDS-

For more information, please contact John Watson on 0131 313 7012 or 07818 453 070

Information

Programme Director, Scotland

Amnesty International

Rosebery House

9 Haymarket Terrace

Edinburgh, EH12 5EZ

Tel: 0844 800 9088

John Watson

www.amnesty.org.uk/scotland

Read our blog at

https://blogs.amnesty.org.uk/scotland

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