[JURIST] The American Civil Liberties Union [advocacy website] on Tuesday released a report [text, PDF; press release] alleging widespread abuses by the Puerto Rico Police Department (PRPD) [official website, in Spanish]. The report documents numerous instances excessive force, sometimes deadly, to suppress speech, subdue protesters, and target ethnic and racial minorities. It also alleges a culture of impunity among the police and a failure to police crimes of abuse and sexual assault:
The PRPD routinely commits abuses including the unjustified use of lethal force against unresisting, restrained, or unarmed civilians; beatings and other violence against unarmed Black, poor, and Dominican men that left some near death and others paralyzed or with traumatic brain injury; and excessive force against peaceful protesters. … The PRPD also fails to police crimes of domestic violence and rape and to protect women from violence by their intimate partners. These abuses do not represent isolated incidents or aberrant behavior by a few rogue officers. Such police brutality is pervasive and systemic, island-wide and ongoing. The PRPD is steeped in a culture of unrestrained abuse and near-total impunity.
The report recommends that the PRPD rewrite its policies and implement training procedures to reinforce these policies. It also recommends the the Puerto Rican government work to end impunity for abusive police officers. The ACLU also called on the US Department of Justice to intervene and enter into an enforceable agreement with the PRPD.
Police abuse is a subject of international concern. Human Rights Watch (HRW) reported [JURIST report] in May that China’s chengguan, a para-police organization charged with enforcing non-criminal administrative regulations, is abusing its power. In April HRW alleged that Bahrain’s police officers regularly abuse minor detainees [JURIST report] before transporting them to police stations. Last October the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan reported that prisoners in some Afghan-run detention facilities had been beaten and tortured [JURIST report]. In June 2011 HRW reported that Iraqi police forces had been beating and illegally detaining protesters [JURIST report].