Last Updated: Friday, 19 January 2018, 17:46 GMT

Amnesty International Report 2009 - Puerto Rico

Publisher Amnesty International
Publication Date 28 May 2009
Cite as Amnesty International, Amnesty International Report 2009 - Puerto Rico, 28 May 2009, available at: [accessed 20 January 2018]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.

Head of state: George W. Bush
Head of government: Aníbal Aceveda-Vilá
Death penalty: abolitionist for all crimes
Population: 4 million
Life expectancy: 79 years
Under 5 mortality (m/f): 9/8 per 1,000

There were reports of police brutality against migrants and residents of poor neighbourhoods, as well as allegations of discrimination and racial profiling by police.

Ill-treatment by police

There were reports of police brutality against migrants from the Dominican Republic. In October, the Dominican Consulate in San Juan submitted a report to the Puerto Rican Senate stating that it received regular complaints of abuse and discriminatory treatment of Dominican migrants by the Puerto Rican police. The report outlined 15 recent cases of alleged police beatings. Migrant communities alleged that police officers regularly raided poor areas in search of undocumented migrants, whom they arbitrarily detained. The detainees were then handed over to the federal authorities for deportation, even though the Puerto Rican police had no powers to enforce immigration law. The Puerto Rico Police Department denied the allegations.

In July a grand jury indicted six San Juan Municipal Police Department officers for federal civil rights violations for beating a man to death in 2003, and with obstruction of justice for having tried to cover up their actions.


The UN Special Rapporteur on racism visited Puerto Rico during May and June, when he heard testimony about alleged racial profiling and police ill-treatment of migrants and residents of poor areas such as Villa Cañona in the town of Loíza. He also visited the site of the controversial Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) shooting of Puerto Rican independence activist Filiberto Ojeda Ríos in 2005. The Puerto Rico American Civil Liberties Union presented him with the preliminary findings of their inquiries into 42 unexplained prison deaths in Guerrero Prison in three years. The Special Rapporteur's report was due to be issued in 2009.

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