Sunday, March 20, 2011

PUERTO RICO: Stop campus abuses - US liberties union

University World News

Alison Moodie
20 March 2011 

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has urged the US government to put a stop to police brutality against and censorship of student protesters at Puerto Rico's most prestigious university.

In a 12 March letter the civil rights organisation implored the US Department of Justice to wrap up its investigations and take strong action against the state-led violence at the University of Puerto Rico, as well as against scores of other human rights abuses suffered by the general public.

"At a time when our nation is riveted by the power of peaceful demonstrations and their importance to our democracy, the horrific abuses reported to be taking place in Puerto Rico have flown too far under the radar," said Anthony D Romero, executive director of ACLU, in a statement.

The letter lists a host of human rights violations at the hands of security forces, including "extreme" police atrocities against student protesters and suppression of free speech at the university.

The letter details the "merciless" beatings, torture and sexual harassment of students, who for months have protested against a newly imposed $800 annual tuition fee.

Also decried is a resolution passed in December by University of Puerto Rico Chancellor Ana Guadalupe, prohibiting any meetings or large gatherings on campus, which ACLU calls an anti-First Amendment policy.

Aside from the campus violence, other abuses listed in the letter include racially-motivated beatings of minority groups, police attacks on the homeless, and the de-certification of the Puerto Rico Bar Association.

"It is nothing short of shocking to think that these breathtaking incidents could occur unchecked in America, and any abuses must be stopped," said Romero.