psychophysical weapons and tortures in Europe

Non-lethal Weapons


Non-lethal weapons, also called less-lethal weapons, less-than-lethal weapons, non-deadly weapons, compliance weapons, or pain-inducing weapons are weapons intended to be less likely to kill a living target than are conventional weapons. These various terms are meant to describe the intended result of applying these technologies, techniques and procedures; accidental, incidental, and correlative casualties are possible and are an understood and accepted risk wherever force is applied. Non-lethal weapons are used in combat situations to limit the escalation of conflict or where employment of lethal force is prohibited or undesirable or where rules of engagement require minimum casualties or policy restricts the use of conventional force. Non-lethal weapons may be used by conventional military in a range of missions across the force continuum. Non-lethal weapons may also be utilized by military police, by United Nations forces, and by occupation forces for peacekeeping and stability operations. Non-lethal weapons may be used to channelize a battlefield or control the movement of civilian populations or limit civilian access to restricted areas (as they were utilized by the U.S.M.C.'s 1st Marine Expeditionary Force in Somalia in 1995). When used by police forces domestically, similar weapons, tactics, techniques and procedures are often called "less lethal" or "less than lethal" and are employed in riot control, prisoner control, crowd control, refugee control, and self-defense
Non-lethal weapons are intended to minimize injury or death. While people are occasionally seriously injured or killed by these weapons, fatalities are relatively infrequent. Causes of death from non-lethal weapons are varied and occasionally uncertain. Misplaced or ricocheting shots, pre-existing medical conditions, inadequate user training, repetitive applications and intentional misuse have been implicated in different cases where death has occurred. As different parts of the body differ in vulnerability, and because people vary in weight and fitness, any weapon powerful enough to incapacitate may be capable of killing under certain circumstances. Thus "non-lethal force" does have some risk of causing death: in this context "non-lethal" means only "not intended to kill".

Several groups maintain there is great room for improvement in non-lethal weapons and procedures for their use. Claims for the relative safety of such weapons are usually contingent on their being used "properly." For example, the rubber bullets developed during the 1960s were supposed to be fired at the ground and hit the target only after ricochet,[12] and other non-lethal bullets are designed to be fired at the lower body; they can be lethal if fired directly at the head, as commonly happens.

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