Amnesty reprimands France for weapons used against protesters in Lebanon

On Thursday, Amnesty International called on Paris to stop arms sales to Lebanon and said that French-produced rubber bullets, tear gas grenades and launchers had been used to quell peaceful demonstrations.

“For several years, France has provided Lebanese security forces with law enforcement equipment, which they then used to commit or facilitate serious human rights violations,” the group said in a statement.

“We urge France to ensure that no further sales take place until the Lebanese authorities have acknowledged previous violations,” said Aymeric Elluin, Amnesty International France’s legal adviser.

“Lebanese security forces operate in a climate of impunity.”

French-made rubber bullets, tear gas grenades and launchers have been used repeatedly since the start of an unprecedented anti-government protest movement in October 2019, according to the rights group.

They were also used in 2015 to spread protests over a waste management crisis that saw rubbish piled up over the capital, it added.

Amnesty said its findings were based on analysis of more than 100 videos of protests in Beirut, as well as testimonies and medical records collected by researchers on the ground.

It accused security forces of firing tear gas canisters directly at protesters, as well as firing rubber bullets at chest level, sometimes from close range, between October 2019 and August 2020.

This “excessive use of force” has led to serious injuries to the head, eyes and upper body, the group said.

The security forces also used French-made armored vehicles, it added.

Amnesty called the role of French law enforcement equipment in abuses against demonstrations “shameful”.

“There has been no effective investigation into the illegal use of weapons, including those made in France, against peaceful protesters, and not a single security officer has been held accountable by judicial authorities,” Elluin said.

(AFP)