Thursday, November 29, 2018

Tear Gas at the Border

Jamil Dakwar, director of the ACLU's Human Rights program, has penned an important opinion piece for the Washington Post providing some perspective on the tear gas trained on migrants on the southern US border over the past weekend. 

After surveying the police use of tear gas against protesters in Ferguson and elsewhere, Dakwar writes,

"Not every use of tear gas by police is illegal. But it’s an indiscriminate weapon: Tear gas cannot distinguish between the young and the elderly, the healthy and the sick, the peaceful and the violent; it cannot tell whether a person is an unarmed rallygoer or a curious bystander. That is why it is rarely appropriate to use against protesters, and why its use should be regulated."

He continues, "The United States has no specific rules regarding tear gas and requires no particular training for its use. When law enforcement officers do use tear gas, they should give clear and easily audible warnings beforehand, ensure that anyone who is not violent is far enough away to be unaffected, and provide prompt medical attention to everyone — violent or not — who is affected."

Dakwar concludes that in this instance "the use of tear gas against unarmed people fleeing violence in one country — many of them seeking asylum — is cruel and inhumane; it violates U.S. international human rights obligations. By using tear gas against them, our government mocks our obligation to protect the world’s most vulnerable. But the United States needs to rethink how it deploys chemical weapons against its own people, too, especially those who are exercising their right to protest."

A link to the full op ed is here.

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