Police Brutality And Abuse Of Power In The Dominican Republic
In the recent years, the Dominican Republic has been in the eye of the storm with instances of systematic violence being meted out to the common people of the land by the police and authorities. For proper comprehension of the mentioned matter, one needs to scrutinize the situation and occurrences that have resulted in such a friction between the commoners and the police forces in Dominican Republic.
It needs to be reckoned that the law and order situation in this Caribbean nation has been on the wane for quite a few years now with the issue of drug trafficking and public safety thwarting the wellbeing of people and betterment of the society. However, there have been many instances of abuse of power by the police forces, apart from instances of racial discrimination meted out to the migrants in the country.
With the number of clashes increasing at an alarming rate, the world community has taken a note of the waning social situation in the Dominican Republic with the government too being compelled to initiate actions to ensure that no such acts of police brutality or abuse of power comes to impact the common people of the country.
It has to be reckoned that as much as 10 percent of the total number of homicides in the Dominican Republic has been committed by the officials of the police department. The number is truly alarming, while experts also believe that the low salary of the officials in the police force works as a catalyst for making those people not abide by the government directives about dealing with common people while they are on duty.
While there have been certain cases where the officers of the police force have been punished for killing commoners during their duty hours, most of the officers who abuse their power and position go unpunished or even uninvestigated in the country. The issue of police brutality has become so huge that the government has been compelled to introduce a new criminal procedure that requires a detained individual to be presented in the court of law within a span of 48 hours of being taken in custody by the police force.
However, the manner in which the police force exploits its power and authority is very much alarming as it undermines the basic human rights of the civilians of the country, and puts them amidst major threat in the face of systematic violence and apathy.
Even the Amnesty International has voiced its utmost concern about the extent of human rights violation carried out by the police force of the country. There have been instances when the criminal suspects have been beaten up, threatened to be killed, denied water and food, and even essential medicines. The police often put plastic bags over the heads of the suspects, and hang them from nails or bars by the handcuffs.
These acts of sheer inhumanity and immorality have continued for long to give the police a negative image among the people of the country. Moreover, there have been a number of instances where common people have become hapless victims of enforced disappearances. The government of the Dominican Republic openly admits to the fact that the police force needs to be reformed, while their wages would also require a boost.
Moreover, the government stresses on the fact that the people of the Dominican society have the right to take legal help for addressing the issue of extrajudicial murders. However, this stand by the government only works to expose the degeneration of the moral fiber of the police force, and the hapless condition the common people of the country are being compelled to live in with no security from the abusive police force that has come to a major threat, instead of being the vanguard of law and order of the nation state (Bobea 59-65).
Apart from the primary concern about the safety and security of the common people of the Dominican Republic, one also needs to take into consideration how the Haitian workers are treated in a dismal manner in the Dominican Republic. These migrant workers have been left to face the wrath of power abuse and police brutality in the country, while their pay scales, rights, as well as access to health care remain major issues of concern in the society.
The refugees living in the country are also dealt with such insensitivity by the police forces, while they also have to face the surmounting impact of the powerful section of the society. Nonetheless, it is believed that the popular culture of the country is not characterized by racial discrimination and prejudices. The border between the countries of Haiti and Dominican Republic being quite porous in nature, the economic imbalance between the two nations in context goes on to result in a sort of destabilization.
Yet, all of this logic cannot be used to support the abuse of power and brutality meted out to hapless Haitian refugees or migrants who have come over to the Dominican Republic in the hope of having a better life and opportunities.
In stark contrast to the noble duty of upholding the safety and security of the common people the society that is expected from the police force of any nation state, the police brutality that has become an uniform characteristic of the authorities of the Dominican Republic is a serious blotch on the image and reputation of the country in the entire globe.
With the world media being engaged in highlighting the continual oppression meted out to the common people of the country by the police, the issue has taken the shape of a burning debate where the government is being blamed for the lack of control on the police department and the discipline of the policemen.
Nonetheless, the country was entirely committed to the aim of ensuring that human rights of the common people as recognized by the Constitution of the country and international covenants were not violated. The government was, in fact, committed to respect every civilian’s political rights apart from addressing the humanitarian emergencies as well.
However, the status quo challenges the holistic development and wellbeing of the commoners of the country with the police force becoming synonymous with the notion of brutality and abuse of power (Caoa & Zhaob 406-409). The police force being an integral part of the state machinery, the government cannot deny its duty to ensure safety of the common people and restoring discipline among the members of the police force.
It needs to be considered that the National Police is not trusted by the common people of the Dominican Republic as perceive the police force to be an agent of inhuman abuse as well as endemic corruption. Over the last few years, hundreds of police officers have been fired by the government as they had links with the groups involved in drug trafficking.
One needs to note the fact that the Dominican Republic’s role in the international trade of drugs has been catapulted in the last few years. There is presence of transnational criminal groups who tend to have nexuses with the police officers, thereby enhancing the social ill of corruption and violence in the country.
Criminals who smuggle drugs seem to be relying much more on the water routes of the Caribbean for their business, since the pressure on the drug traffickers of Central America and Mexico have increased in the recent times (Warmund n.p.). Thus, one can understand that the rapid decline in the law and order situation of the country is only been catapulted by the corruption and brutality of the police force that has failed to gain the respect and trust of the common people of the nation.
For any country to be on the right path of betterment, the common people of the society should have confidence on the state authorities. If one takes into consideration the trust and reliance of the common people on the state authorities of the developed nations, it can be noted that the police force is seen as the epitome of law and order with utmost commitment to combat criminality by saving the common people.
However, the scenario is totally different in the Dominican Republic with the common people of the society feeling more vulnerable due to the atrocity of the police force. This is surely not a good ambiance for socio-political development in the Dominican Republic. Power is seen as a mode of meting out abuse and oppression- something that would only add to the social degeneration of the country and its people.
Lack of confidence on the police leads to the state of vulnerability as the common people fail to feel safe being encompassed with criminality and no protection (Bajaj 23-28). It leaves a negative impact on the notion of self and identity of the common people as well.
Dominican Republic has to follow the international standards of human rights in the society, and ensure that the policemen who engage in unlawful activities are made accountable in the eyes of law. Exemplary punishments and warnings can work effectively to minimize the number of cases of police atrocity and abuse of power.
Moreover, the responsibility of security and human rights of the refugees or immigrants coming to the country rests on the shoulders of the government. It would be wrong to let the vulnerability of these helpless people get accentuated in any way, as that would also hamper the image of the country in the international arena. The issues of racism and discrimination have the roots in the institutionalized practice of abuse of power by the police and the authorities.
Thus, by dealing with the issue of abuse of power, the social issues of racial discrimination can also be neutralized with effectiveness, thereby paving a way for a better society. While it can very well be on the government’s agenda to curb migration into the Dominican Republic by the people of Haiti, it should take the needed steps to ensure that the military or the police force does not abuse its position and power to treat the people unreasonably (Howard 727-732).
However, the systematic violence meted out to the Haitian people over the last few years has to be curbed at any cost, to uphold the standards of human rights and satiate the cause of morality and conscience in approach.
Hence, it would be correct to conclude by saying that the Dominican Republic has to combat the problem of police brutality and abuse of power for neutralizing the immense threat that poses impediment to the path of holistic development and advancement of the country and its people. The government should take the necessary steps to ensure that police force of the country works in a proper manner with utmost discipline and commitment toward upholding the law and order of the state, apart from ensuring the safety and security of the civilians of the Dominican Republic.
The execution of systematic violence by the police force, if not checked with immediacy, would surely have a negative impact on the psyche of the people of the country, and would harm the global image of the government and the nation as well. While the international organizations keep a close watch on the social scenario of the Dominican Republic, it is surely one of the primary challenges of the governance and the authorities to transform the perception of the people about the police force and restore faith in the hearts of commoners regarding the authorities.