The tools that governments could use to contain public demonstrations by remote control – firing tear gas from drones, for example – are advancing at a troubling and unregulated rate, says a new report from researchers in the U.K.
These technologies are either fully automatic or semi-automatic, according to the report, and can be used at a distance from the target.
Without further study and regulation, these detached methods of crowd control could lead to serious human rights violations, the report says. “This could include the blanket application of significant quantities of [remote control agents] against large peaceful gatherings or demonstrations resulting in en masse infliction of cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.”
The report, titled “Tear Gassing By Remote Control”, was commissioned by the Remote Control Project, a branch of the Oxford Research Group, a think tank partly focused on modern warfare and its long-term consequences.
Its publication comes as almost 200 member states are meeting in The Hague in the Netherlands at the annual Conference of the States Parties to the Chemical Weapons Conventions, to discuss the progression of chemical warfare worldwide.