An interactive map presented this Tuesday by the human rights organization Amnesty International exposes the violence that some 85 States exercise against citizens who demonstrate in their territories.
Spain, France, Germany and the United Kingdom are among the European countries and the United States, Mexico, Cuba, Nicaragua, Colombia, Peru, Ecuador and Chile are among the American nations included. In this digital world map, if you click on the individual links, you access the entity’s document archive in which it denounces these abuses.
“Mapping human rights violations allows us to visualize and track the global scale of the problem,” said Patrick Wilcken, Amnesty International (AI) Researcher on Military, Security and Police Affairs.
In addition, it “exposes governments that do not protect the right to protest and helps hold law enforcement authorities accountable” for the abuses they commit in suppressing demonstrations, he adds.
Amnesty International calls on governments to urgently rethink “their approach, stop this abhorrent violence and ensure they protect and facilitate peaceful protests.”
“Improper use of force”
According to AI, in most of the Latin American countries on the map, as well as in the United States, the right to assembly “is in danger,” as protest “is treated as a threat,” there is “militarization” and “an improper use of force.”
In Nicaragua and Cuba there is “repressive legislation”, as in France or the United Kingdom, while in Spain Amnesty calls for a ban on the use of rubber bullets.
The Cuban police arrest a protester in Havana, during the opposition marches in July 2021. Photo: AFP
“Authorities around the world are increasingly resorting to the illegitimate use of force and repressive legislation to crush protests,” the organization declares when disseminating its cartography of oppression, which is part of the “Protect the Protest” campaign.
The map shows that governments approach protests “as a threat rather than a right” and that security forces “believe their role is to repress and subdue protesters rather than enable them to exercise their rights,” says AI. .
Consequently, “thousands of people are illegitimately dispersed, arrested, beaten and even killed during demonstrations,” as well as penalized for the mere fact of being present, he adds.
“Peaceful protest is a right, not a privilege, and a right that States have a duty to respect, protect and facilitate,” says Wilcken.
The activist highlights that “in Iran, the authorities have unlawfully killed hundreds of people and arbitrarily detained tens of thousands, including minors,” while in China “it is impossible to protest peacefully without suffering harassment and judicial processes”.
Protests in Iran after the death of Mahsa Amini, imprisoned for not wearing the veil correctly, in September 2022. Photo: REUTERS
“This map highlights the need for an international treaty to regulate trade in police control equipment to ensure that less lethal weapons (tear gas, rubber bullets, pepper spray or batons) do not end up in the hands of abusive police forces,” he says.
According to AI’s latest annual report, there were credible allegations of unlawful use of force by state agents against peaceful protesters in 2022 in at least 86 of the 156 countries examined.
In 37 of those locations, security forces used lethal weapons against protesters, even though they should not be used to disperse a gathering.
In addition to denouncing these abuses, the map, which will be updated in real time, details the legislation in force in each place on protests, the relevant publications of the ON and the rulings of international courts, while explaining to citizens how they can mobilize. .