Stop the unlawful use of batons

Around the world, governments are cracking down on protests by misusing police batons. These weapons are being misused as a tool for repression. It is time to end the human rights violations committed with police batons. Take action and call for regulation now.

In December 2020 a young man was taken away by police after attending a protest demanding police accountability in Belarus. He was not resisting arrest, and yet suddenly the officer struck him on the back of the legs. Then, while held by one officer, another struck him on the back of the head with a baton and punched him in the face and stomach. 

This is one of countless cases around the world of abuse inflicted by the unlawful use of police batons – often against peaceful protesters.

Our research shows that batons are misused to beat people as a form of punishment. They are used to strike people when restrained. They are used to deliver unjustified dangerous blows to the head and neck. They are used to commit sexual violence. They are used to inflict torture. All of this must stop.

Batons are considered a less lethal weapon intended to allow law enforcement officials to avoid having to use more harmful weapons, but our research shows that they are frequently misused, often to punitively cause harm in violation of international law. Despite this, the trade in batons is unregulated. It is time to end the torture trade and demand regulation.

Sign the petition and call on your government to:

  1. Effectively and robustly implement the UN Basic principles on the use of force and firearms.
  2. Investigate and prosecute any unlawful use of batons by law enforcement and security forces. Including but not limited to the following conditions:
    • Strikes on individuals who are already restrained. 
    • Commission of sexual assault and rape. 
    • Beatings as a form of punishment. 
    • Unjustified and dangerous strikes to the head and neck.
  3. Support the negotiation of an international instrument to end the torture trade.