HomeNewsBriefViolent Vigilante Movement Taking Off in Peru
BRIEF

Violent Vigilante Movement Taking Off in Peru

PERU / 16 SEP 2015 BY MICHAEL LOHMULLER EN

In recent weeks vigilante groups encouraging citizens to take justice into their own hands have been springing up in Peru, using social media to advocate for the violent punishment of suspected criminals.

The vigilante movement -- which uses the slogan “Chapa tu choro,” or “Catch your thief” -- began with the creation of the “Chapa tu choro Peru” Facebook page, reported BBC Mundo.

The creator of the Facebook page, Cecilia Garcia Rodriguez, said she started the campaign after a thief caught robbing her neighbor’s house was released from police custody without being charged with a crime. “From that day onward, we decided to spread the message in the community -- that the next time we catch a criminal, we won’t call the police but will punish them ourselves,” explained Garcia.

 

15-09-16-Peru-GarciaChapaChoro"Chapa tu choro" creator, Cecilia Garcia Rodriguez. Source: La Republica

 

Over 100 similar Facebook pages have reportedly appeared since then, some with violent names suggesting citizens should “paralyze” or “castrate” criminals. Several have even published gruesome photos and videos of presumed thieves being whipped and beaten by angry citizens.

 

15-09-16-Peru-ChapoLynch

"Thief, if we catch you we won't take you to the police, we'll lynch you."

 

Under Peruvian law, taking justice into your own hands is a crime punishable by four to 25 years in prison, depending on the severity of the injuries sustained by the victim. Citizen arrests are permitted, however.

According to a 2015 US Agency for International Development (USAID) report on crime and justice, roughly 40 percent of Peruvians support the use of vigilante justice, the third highest approval rate in Latin America.  

InSight Crime Analysis

The vigilante movement has raised alarm among Peruvian officials, who fear it undermines judicial institutions and could potentially lead to more serious human rights violations, such as “social cleansing” and extrajudicial killings.

Some politicians, however, have supported the right of citizens to defend themselves. This includes former president Alejandro Toledo, who has used the vigilante movement to highlight the need for a stronger government approach to fighting crime. Toledo --  who is running for president in 2016 -- recently promised he would deploy Peru’s armed forces onto the streets in order to “kill citizen insecurity.”

 

"This was hung up recently. If the state does not act, people tend to take justice into their own hands."

 

That the movement has gained traction in Peru points to a lack of confidence in the security forces to combat crime and the justice system to successfully convict criminals. Noam Lopez, a Peruvian social scientist, told BBC Mundo that vigilante justice has become popular because “security institutions have neglected their work in preventing crime,” and that citizens believe “once a crime is committed, the criminal will not be punished.”

SEE ALSO: Peru news and Profiles

Citizens becoming frustrated with the perceived inadequacies of state institutions and turning to vigilante justice is not uncommon in Latin America. It has been especially prevalent in southwest Mexico, where local self-defense militias have taken up arms in recent years to combat violent drug cartels.

share icon icon icon

Was this content helpful?

We want to sustain Latin America’s largest organized crime database, but in order to do so, we need resources.

DONATE

What are your thoughts? Click here to send InSight Crime your comments.

We encourage readers to copy and distribute our work for non-commercial purposes, with attribution to InSight Crime in the byline and links to the original at both the top and bottom of the article. Check the Creative Commons website for more details of how to share our work, and please send us an email if you use an article.

Tags

Was this content helpful?

We want to sustain Latin America’s largest organized crime database, but in order to do so, we need resources.

DONATE

Related Content

COCA / 11 JUL 2022

Following multiple killings, Indigenous leaders in the Peruvian Amazon are again facing threats of violence after coca eradication operations in…

ARGENTINA / 29 JAN 2021

While unrest gripped much of Latin America in 2019, it was the coronavirus that took center stage and ripped through…

ECUADOR / 14 FEB 2022

Peru has convicted a gang of shark fin traffickers for the first time in history but more is needed to…

About InSight Crime

WORK WITH US

Open Position: Full Stack WordPress Developer

28 NOV 2022

As Full Stack WordPress Developer You Will: Work collaboratively with other developers and designers to maintain and improve organizational standards.Demonstrate a high level of attention to detail, and implement best…

THE ORGANIZATION

Join Us This #GivingTuesday in Exposing Organized Crime

24 NOV 2022

For over twelve years, InSight Crime has contributed to the global dialogue on organized crime and corruption. Our work has provided policymakers, analysts, academics, journalists, and the general public with…

THE ORGANIZATION

Like Crime, Our Coverage Knows No Borders

18 NOV 2022

The nature of global organized crime means that while InSight Crime focuses on Latin America, we also follow criminal dynamics worldwide. InSight Crime investigator Alessandro Ford covers the connections between Latin American and European…

THE ORGANIZATION

Using Data to Expose Crime

11 NOV 2022

Co-director Jeremy McDermott made a virtual presentation at a conference hosted by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC). The ‘Sixth International Conference on Governance, Crime, and Justice…

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime ON AIR

4 NOV 2022

InSight Crime Co-director Steven Dudley was interviewed for the podcast The Rosenberg Case: A Tale of Murder, Corruption, and Conspiracy in Guatemala, which explores the potential involvement of then president, Álvaro Colom,…