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Northern Ireland: Amnesty welcomes 'freeze' on taser deployment

Amnesty International welcomes the Chief Constable Sir Hugh Orde’s announcement that there will be no deployment of Tasers in Northern Ireland until human rights and equality concerns are met.

Speaking today at the launch of the Policing Board’s annual human rights report, Patrick Corrigan, Amnesty International Northern Ireland programme director, said:

“I welcome the Chief Constable’s announcement today that there will be no deployment of Tasers in Northern Ireland until, and presumably unless, human rights concerns are met.

“We will also be seeking assurances that neither will there be any piloting of Tasers in Northern Ireland until such concerns are met.”

Amnesty International has studied the use of Tasers in the US and Canada, where more than 220 people have died since 2001 after being ‘Tasered’.

Tasers are powerful electrical weapons used by over 7,000 law enforcement agencies in the USA and by police forces across Britain, with more than 3,000 of the devices distributed to special firearms officers since their introduction in 2003.

They temporarily disable a suspect by delivering a 50,000-volt shock, incapacitating the individual and causing them to fall to the ground.

Former Home Secretary John Reid’s proposals to extend their use in the UK sparked criticism from Amnesty International, which maintains more research must be carried out into potential adverse effects from Taser shocks on people who are agitated, under the influence of drugs, or who are subjected to multiple or prolonged shocks.

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