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ACLU Urges Justice Department to Investigate Human Rights Abuses in Puerto Rico

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March 10, 2011

Those C-Span (or YouTube) nerds among you might’ve caught Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-Ill.) rail against the reported human rights abuses going on in Puerto Rico last week from the House floor. At the end of his remarks, he submitted the ACLU’s report, Human Rights Crisis in Puerto Rico: First Amendment Under Siege, into the House record.

Today, we followed up on that report with a letter to the Department of Justice’s (DOJ) Civil Rights Division, urging them to intervene into the allegations of ongoing human rights abuses against the people of Puerto Rico at the hands of the territory’s government.

Our letter cites several incidents of reported police misconduct and suppression of free speech, including:

  • violence against student protesters, with students being beaten, maced, shot at with rubber bullets and sexually assaulted by police;
  • the execution of a man lying on the ground following an argument with a police officer over a traffic violation;
  • the fabrication of drug-related charges against over 100 residents of a housing project in the city of Mayaguez;
  • the violent and inhumane eviction of members of the Villas del Sol squatter community, including the denial of fresh water to the community for eight months;
  • the de-certification of the Puerto Rico Bar Association and legal action against bar members designed to stifle political dissent.

You can read the full letter here. And stay tuned: we will report on any response from the DOJ.

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