Plastic bullet guidlines forced into the open

Democrat reporter

THE BRITISH government has been forced to publish guidelines covering the army’s use of plastic baton rounds by troops in Northern Ireland.

The guidelines, which are different to those used by the police, were eventually published on 23 October in response to a parliamentary question tabled by Labour MP Kevin McNamara.

Publication of the guidelines came within hours of legal moves forcing the British government to make them public.

Commenting on the development, Relatives for Justice chair and long-standing anti-plastic bullets campaigner Clara Reilly stressed that the government’s decision to publish had saved it the embarrassment of being forced to defend their non-publication in court. The legal challenge arose following the deployment of British troops by the police in interface areas, where the army’s use of plastic bullets has resulted in injuries to civilians and children.

“We have yet to give a full response to the guidelines,” said Clara Reilly. “However, it is evident that they are ambiguous and open to interpretation to suit whatever circumstances, injury or fatality which may occur as a result of their use.”

In a separate development, he United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child recently joined the UN Committee on Torture in condemning the use of plastic bullets in Northern Ireland.

A report published by the committee in October stresses concern “at the continued use of plastic baton rounds as a means of riot control in Northern Ireland” as they “cause injuries to children and may jeopardise their lives”.

The report goes on to urge the British government to “abolish the use of plastic baton rounds as a means of riot control”.

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This document was last modified by David Granville on 2002-12-28 16:43:37.
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