Annual Report: Puerto Rico 2011

Report
May 28, 2011

Annual Report: Puerto Rico 2011

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Head of state: Barack H. Obama
Head of government: Luis Fortuño
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 ill-treatment of students during a demonstration. The living conditions of residents of an informal settlement under a government eviction order remained a concern.

Excessive use of force

In May, during a two-month strike by university students in San Juan, a number of incidents of excessive use of force by officers from the Puerto Rican Police Department were reported.

These incidents included the indiscriminate use of batons and pepper-spray against non-violent protesters during a demonstration by striking students at the Sheraton Hotel on 20 May. Video footage showed police officers shocking a student with a Taser during the demonstration while he was being restrained on the ground by three officers.

Right to adequate housing

In November, the community of Villas de Sol in Toa Baja signed an agreement to form a co-operative on land given to them by the municipality of Toa Baja in exchange for a parcel of land donated to the residents by Doctor Eduardo Ibarra, President of the College of Surgeons. However, at the end of the year the community remained under a government eviction order, which was extended to 31 December 2010, and without permanent access to water and electrical supplies. Amnesty International called on the federal authorities to extend the eviction deadline to 2011 to allow the community sufficient time to build adequate alternative housing on the new land, as well as to allow municipal authorities to ensure adequate housing services, including water, sanitation and electricity were available at the new site.