BU Civic Media Hub & the Omega Research Foundation publish report on the misuse of Tear Gas in Europe

tear gas turkey flag

Peaceful demonstrators tear gassed in Turkey

Responding to a request for more data on tear gas misuse in Council of Europe member states, the BU Datalabs team hosted a daylong data hack day to aggregate information and produce a report for the Council of Europe. The report offers a brief summary analysis of Human Rights investigations into the misuse of tear gas on peaceful and civilian protesters. It covers member states of the Council of Europe that came under investigation in a sample of publicly available reports published between 2006 and 2016.

Our summary report shares a number of key findings regarding human rights concerns. These findings include data indicating that tear gas is frequently being used in confined and enclosed spaces, which can increase the likelihood of suffocation, stampeding and related injuries and deaths. Tear gas is also being used in places with uninvolved bystanders, and in places where there are vulnerable populations, such as near, or even inside, hospitals and schools.

The number of incidents that took place in contained areas compared to streets

The number of incidents that took place in contained areas compared to streets

Another major finding of the report reveals the lack of adequate and transparent record keeping on police use of force. No Council of Europe member state currently keeps publicly available statistics on police use of force with tear gas or other less lethal weapons. This means that there is no access to information on the amount of tear gas that is used, where it is used, or what injuries and deaths it causes.

We conclude our report with a list of 9 recommendations for change. Primary among these is a call for member states to comply with the UN Basic Principles on the Use of Force and Firearms by Law Enforcement Officials.

Our full report is available to read and download here:USE OF TEAR GAS ON PEACEFUL PROTESTERS BY COUNCIL OF EUROPE MEMBER STATES


Dr. Anna Feigenbaum, Laura McKenna, Ozlem Demirkol, Tim Sontheimer, Daniel Weissmann, Charlotte Souter-Phillips, Thomas Dence, and Wilfred Collins-Fierkens conducted research for this report. With thanks to Dr. Phillipa Gillingham and Dr. Einar Thorsen for guidance, and a special thanks to Laura McKenna who worked as the Research Assistant throughout this project.

The Omega Research Foundation is part funded by the European Instrument on Democracy and Human Rights.

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