Dismay at Introduction of Tasers

The Chairperson of Relatives for Justice Clara Reilly speaking today on hearing the news of the PSNI “pilot” deployment of Tasers.

“This is a black day for human rights in our post-conflict society.

“Tasers, which deliver 50,000 volts of electricity, are clearly definable as a weapon of torture which violate international human rights agreements to which the British government is a signatory. They can be lethal, particularly when used against people who are pregnant or have heart conditions. Children are particularly vulnerable. PSNI claims that a two day training programme will deliver the highest standards in human rights are an absolute nonsense. Additionally there has not been one scenario in recent times where the use of a Taser could have prevented the taking of a life, these statements are without foundation and insulting.

“In the Editors notes of the PSNI press release it claims that there have been no fatalities as a result of the use of Tasers in Britain – this is deliberately misleading and false. It is only one week since a man was killed by a Taser fired by a police officer in Bedford, England. This is the second person to die in Britain. Over 70 people have been killed by Tasers in the US.

“The move to deploy Tasers has deeply disturbing implications for our new policing arrangements. It comes in advance of a proper and effective Equality Impact Assessment, contrary to the advices of the Policing Board’s own human rights advisors, and the Equality Commission to the PSNI.

“The deployment of Tasers is a policy issue for the Policing Board, not as Hugh Orde likes to believe, an operational matter for him and his senior officers. He is acting in a cavalier fashion. Apart from the human rights implications he is also acting contrary to the spirit of our transitional arrangements which require ensuring effective human rights protections, and the sensitive building of trust and confidence more broadly within our society.

“We are calling on the Policing Board to immediately reverse this deployment on the basis of Section 6 of the Police Act giving it the sole responsibility for policy matters and public safety and interest, before this weapon of torture is put into use on our streets and public lives are put at risk. We are urging them to act before we too have a Tasers-related fatality.”