COMMONWEALTH OF PUERTO RICO
Head of State George W Bush
Head of government Aníbal Aceveda-Vilá
Death penalty abolitionist for all crimes
Population 4 million
Under-5 mortality (m/f) 12/10 per 1,000
There were continuing concerns about the excessive use of force by Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) agents and police brutality.
Police and security forces
An inquiry by the Office of Inspector General (OIG) into the killing of independence activist Filiberto Ojeda Ríos by the FBI in September 2005 raised a number of concerns. The inquiry had cleared the FBI of wrongdoing. However, Amnesty International remained concerned that the discharge by police of more than 100 rounds of ammunition into a building which may have housed unarmed individuals appeared inconsistent with international standards on the use of deadly force. It also questioned the level of perceived threat from within the house, given as the basis for the FBI delaying entry after Filiberto Ojeda Ríos was shot and fatally wounded; and whether he posed an immediate threat to life when he was shot. Amnesty International called for a review of FBI standards on the use of deadly force and asked what measures the US government had taken to address the OIG’s criticisms of aspects of the planning and execution of the operation. No response from the US government had been received by the end of the year.
Amnesty International received no response to its request for information about whether an investigation had been carried out into allegations that members of the FBI had used pepper spray and unjustified force against a group of journalists in February 2006.
There were complaints of police brutality during a crackdown on drugs crime in Villa Cañona, a neighbourhood in the town of Loíza. Residents complained that officers from the Puerto Rico Police Department conducted indiscriminate strip searches of black youths, subjecting them to racial abuse and, in some cases, physical assault.
In December, an external inquiry was appointed to investigate reports of police ill-treatment of unarmed demonstrators protesting against a luxury coastal housing development. Demonstrators blocking lorry access to the site at Paseo Caribe were allegedly punched or dragged across the ground, with a number sustaining injuries.
Amnesty International reports
Puerto Rico: Amnesty International concerned at reports of police violence against unarmed demonstrators (AMR 47/001/2007)
USA/Puerto Rico: Amnesty International’s concerns regarding the FBI shooting of Filiberto Ojeda Ríos (AMR 51/198/2007)