Limiting the Use of Batons as a Means of Dispersing Demonstrations
On July 8, 2021, we appealed to the Police Commissioner regarding the use of batons as a means of dispersing demonstrations. The appeal follows reports according to which police officers are being trained to use batons and are expanding the use of this measure to deal with “second-degree riots and low-level riots” (known as Tier B), in which protesters do not use violence and do not pose a threat to the body nor property.
In the appeal, Attorney Anne Sucio claimed that permitting an expanded use of batons for these lower-level incidents, disproportionately endangers the integrity of demonstrators’ bodies, who seek to exercise their basic right to freedom of protest, and stands in contrast to the declining trend of baton-use in recent years:
Permission granted to police officers to use batons during Tier B incidents, stands in complete contrast to the stance that has guided the police over the years, according to which there is no justification for the use of such means in response to Tier B incidents;
The report released by the Parliamentary Commission of Inquiry into the Evacuation of Amona in 2006, addressed the injuries of hundreds of people during this incident, due to the use of batons, among other means. Following this grave outcome, it was determined that it would be appropriate to raise the permitted threshold for the use of batons (from Tier C to D), which was indeed implemented;
The current decision to adjust the tier at which use of batons is permitted directly from Tier D to Tier B reflects a dramatic and unreasonable deviation from the police’s customary conduct over the past two decades at least, disregarding the great risk involved in implementing such means;
Such an extreme and sudden shift in the threshold permitting the use of batons, after decades in which their use was prohibited aside from the circumstances of particularly grave riots, is an unreasonable decision that seems to have been made hastily and without a thorough in-depth examination of the dangers inherent in this measure.