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Amnesty Int'l reprimands France over weapons used against peaceful protesters in Lebanon

·2-min read

Amnesty International on Thursday urged Paris to halt weapons sales to Lebanon, saying French-manufactured rubber bullets, tear gas grenades and launchers had been used to quell peaceful demonstrations.

"France has for years been supplying Lebanese security forces with law enforcement equipment that they then used to commit or facilitate serious human rights violations," the group said in a statement.

"We call on France to ensure that there are no further sales until the Lebanese authorities have acknowledged past violations," said Aymeric Elluin, advocacy officer on arms transfers at Amnesty International France.

"Lebanese security forces are operating in a climate of impunity."

French-manufactured 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 disperse protests over a waste management crisis that saw trash pile up across the capital, it added.

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

It accused security forces of firing tear gas cannisters directly at protesters, as well as shooting 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.

Security forces also used French-made armoured vehicles, it added.

Amnesty called the role of French law enforcement equipment in the crackdown on demonstrations "shameful".

"There has been no effective investigation of the unlawful use of weapons, including those made in France, against peaceful protesters, and not a single security officer has been held to account by judicial authorities," Elluin said.