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Amnesty International slams Dominican cops

The Americas Post - Dominican police respond to demonstrators throwing bottles and rocks. Photo: KINT News

Amnesty International released a highly critical report on Tuesday, saying the national police force kills and tortures with impunity in the Dominican Republic.

The Dominican national police were responsible for 15 percent of violent deaths recorded annually in the Dominican Republic from 2005 to 2010, according to the report.  The London-based human rights group said police abuse in the Caribbean nation has accompanied increased violent crime due to drug trafficking, the spread of firearms and worsening poverty rates.

With a population of 10 million, the Dominican Republic shares the Caribbean island of Hispaniola with Haiti.  The National Police said 2,367 people had been killed by its officers from 2005 through 2010, according to the report.

The report blamed “hardline policing methods” for contributing to escalating violence and crime instead of reducing it, as a result of inadequate government oversight and reforms.

“At the heart of the failure to implement effective reforms and ensure that Dominicans have the effective policing that they need is a lack of political will,” the report said.  “Those in power have failed to confront those with a vested interest in maintaining the current system in which corruption is deeply rooted and human rights abuses by the police are pervasive.”

In addition to what it described as widespread police torture of criminal suspects, Amnesty said there was evidence to suggest that some killings by the police were so-called “extrajudicial executions.”  There was no immediate response to the report from the Dominican government or police.

As recently as April 2011, Interpol secretary general Ronald Noble congratulated the Santo Domingo police force for being “one of the best in the world”.