October 25th, 2011
12:00 PM ET

Killings by Dominican police 'alarming,' says Amnesty

Police in the Dominican Republic were responsible for an "alarming" 10.5% percent of the nation's killings last year, Amnesty International said Tuesday, citing government statistics.

A report from the human rights organization sharply criticizes the Caribbean nation's police, saying they have been behind "scores of cases of killings, torture and ill-treatment."

"Police killings should not become the way to solve the problem of repeat offenders and warn young people against crime," Javier Zuniga, the head of Amnesty's delegation to the Dominican Republic, said in a statement.

Speaking to CNN before Amnesty released its report, National Police spokesman Col. Maximo Aybar said police in the Dominican Republic were committed to protecting the public.

"We are more than aware that we are here to defend members of society, not to assault them. And that is an institutional position. In those cases where excesses may have been committed, investigations have occurred and measures have been taken: members were suspended from their posts and placed at the disposition of the courts," he said.

Police were responsible for at least 260 of the nation's 2,472 homicides in 2010, Amnesty International said, citing statistics from the National Police and the Prosecutor General. That figure marked a decrease from previous years. In 2008, for example, police were responsible for 19% of the killings in the nation. Details about the circumstances of those killings were unclear.