Monday, November 14, 2011

Police Brutality in the Dominican Republic

“A tenth of all the murders recorded in 2010 were committed by the police.”

There has been an alarming level of police brutality, killings, and torture in the Dominican Republic. Human rights violations are being committed by corrupt professional authorities who are not being held accountable for their actions. Between January and July 2011, 154 people were killed by the police in the Dominican Republic, according to the Office of the Prosecutor General. Reports indicate that while police officers claim that vast majorities of their shootings were in self-defense, in reality, police officers deliberately shoot to kill. There have also been reports of suspects being threatened, beaten, and tortured while in custody.

“The system for investigations of police abuse in the Dominican Republic is disorganized and lacks proper procedures to handle complaints of human rights violations by the police. Whether a police officer faces justice for a killing or torture depends largely on whether the victim or their family lodges an official complaint, the level of publicity a case attracts and the political pressure exerted on prosecutors,” said Javier Zúñiga.

Many families of victims are afraid to talk, as the new motto in the Republic is: “Shut up if you don’t want to be killed.”

This is a very interesting issue. Unlike the authorities in Syria, and Ukraine, where police are killing innocent bystanders, police forces in the Dominican Republic are killing those charged in criminal convictions without giving them a fair trial or allowing them to serve their sentences. They are ‘cleaning the streets’ by getting rid of criminals. They have justified their killings, but is it really a justification?


Anne said...

A tenth of the murders are comitted by police- that's a shocking statistic. How can they offer the repugnant justification that these are made in self-defense? Certainly law enforcement officers should be equipped with the skills and means to defend one's self without killing. The police also claim that this is a deterrent, a warning to potential offenders that the consequences of breaking the law are dire. There is no due process, they ask no questions; you are not innocent until proven guilty- in fact, you are guilty with no chance to prove yourself innocent.
A justice system that relies on political pressure, publicity, and staking one's life can hardly be called a justice system at all. Without the protection of police, it's likely that those who feel vulnerable will band together in gangs or even guerrilla groups in order to protect themselves- conditions can only get worse if the brutality continues.

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Anonymous said...

This article is similar to the one I posted a few days ago about authorities abusing their power in Mexico. In Mexico as well as the Dominican Republic, authorities have (seemingly) good intentions. That is, they want to crack down on crime in their respective countries. However, in both instances, the authorities are abusing their power by not following the proper procedures of a just trial and conviction. Instead, they are simply acting on their own accord, disregarding any formal law and procedures. Without following standard procedures, the law enforcement is essentially not bound to any legal system. This is extremely dangerous and disconcerting! One can only hope that the legal systems in both countries are reformed so that authorities must abide to formal law, and are not allowed to act in a reckless manner.