Police Killings on the Rise in the Dominican Republic

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At least 290 people were killed by police in the Dominican Republic in 2012, amidst a backdrop of declining public safey and increased drug trafficking in this Caribbean nation.

Out of the more than 14,000 thefts and armed robberies reported last year, seven percent of the victims said that the police, or people dressed in police uniform, participated in the acts, according to Dominican Republic news source Hoy Digital.

The data is taken from the annual report released by the country’s National Human Rights Commission (CNDH). The commission president told Hoy that there are likely many other cases of police killings and violence not represented in the statistics. The CNDH receives at least one complaint per day about extrajudicial executions by police, or victims caught in the crossfire during shootouts.

InSight Crime Analysis

Over the past two decades, the homicide rate in the Dominican Republic has nearly doubled, from 13 homicides per 100,000 residents in 1991 to 25 homicides per 100,000 in 2011. According to Amnesty International, the police are responsible, on average, for around 15 percent of all homicides. Between January and July 2011, 154 people were killed by the police, up from 125 in 2010. While the majority of police killings are officially reported as resulting from “exchanges of fire” during shootouts, there are many reports of extrajudicial executions by police, including the murder of criminal associates by corrupt police officers.

The National Police are widely mistrusted by the population due to the perception of endemic corruption and abuse. Over the past five years, over 500 police and soldiers have been fired due to ties with drug trafficking groups.

Some of the increased violence and corruption may stem from the Dominican Republic’s growing role in the international drug trade and the increased presence of transnational criminal organizations. As pressure has increased on drug traffickers in Mexico and Central America, smugglers have begun relying more on sea routes through the Caribbean. Dominican officials have repeatedly warned that the Sinaloa Cartel and other foreign criminal groups are expanding their presence, while a number of foreign traffickers have been arrested inside the country.

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