Dozens of serious injuries caused by Flash Ball riot control guns, used by French police during gilets jaunes (yellow vests) protests, have sparked a debate over whether such weapons should be banned.
The country’s top police officer, Eric Morvan, wrote to his staff this week ahead of more protests expected at the weekend, reminding them when and how the weapons can be used.
However, France’s human rights chief, Jacques Toubon, has backed a ban.
About 2,000 protesters, as well as 1,000 law enforcement officers, have been hurt since the beginning of the movement in mid-November, according to the government.
One protester lost an eye, another went into a coma, while others ended up with fractured jaws.
Police use the “LBD40”, a weapon described as non-lethal, which projects 40-mm semi-rigid rubber balls. Pellets travel at a speed of 100m/s and are meant to distort upon impact, thus not breaking the skin.