United States Election 2020

As the United States undertakes a critical election, we know that the health, human rights, and safety of so many of the communities PHR works with – immigrants, asylum-seekers, Black and Brown communities, and frontline health workers, not to mention leaders in public health and medicine – are on the line.

This year has brought into stark relief not only the lack of leadership on the COVID-19 pandemic, but also the inequities that harm the health and well-being of millions of people.

PHR has always been, and will remain, an international organization, responding to human rights abuses wherever they occur – we must now turn our attention to the United States, which is facing a human rights crisis of its own making. Given its power on the global stage, the election’s impact could be felt far beyond U.S. borders.

The rights to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly are protected by the U.S. Constitution and international treaties ratified by the United States; any use of force deployed against demonstrators must be used as a last resort after carefully weighing all other enforcement options.

“The right to free speech and the right to assemble are under attack globally; the primary way that is happening is through the use of crowd-control weapons.”

Dr. Rohini Haar, PHR Medical Expert

Our Message to U.S. Cities: Protect Rights to Freedom of Speech and Assembly

Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) is calling on city officials across the country to commit to protecting the right to freedom of peaceful assembly ahead of the U.S. general election. Alongside Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International USA, and others, PHR is advocating for protections following a period of significant civil unrest in the United States, during which overwhelmingly peaceful protests opposing systemic racism and police violence have been met by force from law enforcement. Read the joint statement to U.S. mayors and city officials on the need to protect the right of peaceful assembly.

Learn: Resources on Health Impacts of Crowd-Control Weapons

“Less-lethal” weapons can cause serious injury, disability, and even death. These fact sheets describe the health impact of acoustic weapons, directed energy devices, rubber bullets (and other kinetic impact projectiles), stun grenades (and other disorientation devices), tear gas (and other chemical irritants), and water cannons.

Guidance for Protestors

Weapons Fact Sheets:

Explore: Investigations into Use of Force and Crowd-control Weapons in the United States

“Now they seem to just want to hurt us”: Use of Crowd-control Weapons against Protestors and Medics in Portland | PHR was on the ground in Portland, Oregon in July 2020 when federal troops were sent in to crack down on peaceful protesters.

Shot in the Head: A Visual Investigation | Crowd-control weapons have caused at least 115 head injuries across the United States during protests following the killing of George Floyd.

“A Targeted Attack on the Bronx”: Police Violence and Arrests of Health Workers at a New York City Protest | A PHR case study of severe police use of force against protesters, street medics, and others at a Black Lives Matter demonstration in Mott Haven, the Bronx on June 4, 2020.

Watch: Experts Discuss

Health Implications of Potential Election-related Violence: Expert Webinar

As the United States approaches Election Day, Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) hosted a discussion on Friday, October 23 on how to prepare, from a human rights and medical perspective, to respond to a range of potential election-related violence. We will share research, tools, and guidance prepared by PHR and discuss this timely issue through the lens of the additional challenges associated with the COVID-19 pandemic.

Dr. Rohini Haar, PHR Medical Expert, on Crowd-control Weapons in the United States

Act: Mobilize with PHR

Support Us: Make A Gift to PHR

As we all know, politics should never get in the way of ensuring the fundamental rights of all people. Even during this pivotal election season, PHR is continuing to make its voice heard and holding those who violate human rights to account. Will you support this critical work by making a fully tax-deductible donation today?

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