AI Calls for Investigation of Excessive Force in Miami Protests
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AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL PRESS RELEASE
AI Index: AMR 51/142/2003 (Public)
News Service No: 268
26 November 2003
USA: Allegations of excessive use of force and ill-treatment
of protestors in Miami
Amnesty International called today for a full and
independent inquiry into allegations of excessive use of
force by police during demonstrations in Miami on 20th
November. The organization has also received dozens of
reports of ill-treatment of those detained during the
Police are reported to have fired rubber bullets and used
batons, pepper spray, tear gas canisters and concussion
grenades on crowds demonstrating against the Free Trade Area
of the Americas (FTAA) negotiations, leaving some people
hospitalized and dozens more treated for injuries. Scores of
people, including journalists and observers, were arrested
during the demonstration, some reportedly subjected to
ill-treatment in detention. Amnesty International is
currently gathering more information on the reported violations.
"The level of force used by police does not appear to have
been at all justified." Amnesty International said, noting
reports that only a small minority of demonstrators had
engaged in acts of violence.
Miami Police Chief John Timoney today issued a letter to the
media stating that his department would be undertaking a
comprehensive review of the FTAA security operation and
would produce a public report.
"Any investigation into the violence in Miami must be fully
independent and must also look into allegations of
ill-treatment following arrest. If the force used is shown
to have been excessive, then those involved should be
disciplined, measures put in place and training given to
ensure future policing operations in Miami conform to
international standards.", Amnesty International stressed.
Amnesty International is investigating reports that some of
those arrested during the demonstrations have been subjected
to ill-treatment while in detention. One woman is reported
to have been strip-searched by four male officers and left
naked. Other reports suggest that detainees have been beaten
and sprayed with pepper gas and high-powered water hoses
inside Dade County Jail.
"If these allegations are true, Amnesty International would
call on anyone found responsible to be brought to account in
accordance with international standards" Most of those
arrested are reported to have since been released, but
Amnesty International is seeking information as to the legal
status of any still held.
An event organized by the Miami chapter of Amnesty
International during the demonstration was also hindered by
police who surrounded the area and refused people access.
Thousands of people took part in the demonstrations
organized during the Free Trade Area of the Americas
negotiations in Miami on 20 and 21 November. Around 250
people were detained, most released on misdemeanour charges
including "disobeying" police orders to disperse, unlawful
assembly and resisting arrest.
Amnesty International is advocating for regulations
requiring all weapons that launch kinetic impact devices
(objects which hit people) to be treated for practical
purposes as firearms, and therefore to be used only by
trained firearms officers and then strictly in accordance
with the UN Basic Principles on the Use of Force and
Firearms by Law Enforcement Officers, which state, inter
alia, that "Law enforcement officials shall not use firearms
against persons except in self-defence or defence of others
against the imminent threat of death or serious injury".
For more information please call Amnesty International's
press office in London, UK, on +44 20 7413 5566
Amnesty International, 1 Easton St., London WC1X 0DW. web:
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