Rubber bullets can lead to death, disability - study

2017-12-19 22:01
Rubber bullet shells (Lerato Sejake, News24)

Rubber bullet shells (Lerato Sejake, News24)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Paris – About three in every 100 people injured by rubber bullets died as a result, according to a review of recorded casualties published on Tuesday, calling for alternative crowd control measures.

A team of US-based researchers looked at 26 scientific reports published on injury, disability and death caused by rubber bullets between 1990 and 2017 in Israel and the Palestinian territories, the United States, India, Northern Ireland, Switzerland, Turkey, and Nepal.

A total of 1 984 people were injured, they found, of whom 3% (53 people) died.

"Some 300 (15.5%) of all survivors were left with permanent disability as a direct result of the rubber bullet impact they sustained – usually to the head and neck," the team said in a statement.

"Blindness, and removal of the spleen, or a section of the bowel as a result of abdominal injuries, accounted for most of this disability."

Used against South African protesters

Also known as kinetic impact projectiles (KIPs) or rubber baton rounds, rubber or plastic bullets were introduced by the British army in the 1970s for use against rioters in Northern Ireland, deployed against South African protesters in the 1980s, and adopted by the security forces of Israel and further afield.

They are meant to stun rather than kill people as a means of riot and crowd control, but have left a long line of victims in their trail.

The new study sought to count the toll.

"We find that these projectiles have caused significant morbidity (injury) and mortality during the past 27 years," the study authors wrote.

'International guidelines' needed

"Given their inherent inaccuracy, potential for misuse and associated health consequences of severe injury and death, KIPs do not appear to be appropriate weapons for use in crowd-control settings."

The team pointed out that other crowd-control weapons such as tear gas, water cannons, acoustic weapons and electric tasers, have also caused "significant injury" over the years.

"This discussion does not in any way suggest that other weapons are safer," they wrote in the online journal BMJ Open.

But it did imply that "appropriate use of force and alternatives to weapons must be considered in all contexts," the researchers concluded, and appealed for the urgent creation of "international guidelines" on the use of crowd-control weapons.

Read more on:    protest action

Join the conversation! encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.

Inside News24

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.