Criminals in Peru beware, there’s an active vigilante movement of citizens who aren’t afraid to deliver brutal punishment to wrongdoers in the street.
Pictures and videos of some of the elaborate punishments have been appearing online, as Peruvians lose faith in the police to do their job.
A man was forced to eat raw chilli, and another was made to stand on an anthill. One woman was forced to strip naked and walk down a busy street with a sign round her neck saying ‘I’m a thief’, The Mirror reports.
Most of the punishments are less imaginative though, and they usually just involve criminals getting savagely beaten.
The Facebook page ‘Chapa tu choro’, or ‘Catch your thief’, was set up by Cecilia Rodriguez, whose neighbour found a burglar in their house. Cecilia, along with other locals, restrained the man until police arrived, but they were shocked to find the man was later freed.
Anger at this situation led her to start the page. She said:
From that day onwards, we decided to spread the message in the community – that next time we catch a criminal, we won’t call the police but we will punish them ourselves.
But the movement has got out of control and hundreds of pages with names like ‘Catch your thief and leave him paralysed’, ‘cut off his hands’ and ‘castrate him’ have started appearing online.
Worryingly, an innocent man in the north of the country was wrongly accused of robbing a lorry, and was moments away from being lynched when it was discovered he was in fact a neighbour who had come out to see what was happening.
Now even Ms Rodriguez is concerned about the vigilante justice being dispensed. She said:
I didn’t imagine the campaign would catch on the way it did.
I do accept that it has got out of control and that some are taking the violence too far, which I’m not justifying but I do understand.
We are living in a failing state, which is not fulfilling its duty of giving us all security.
Peru’s interior minister, Jose Luis Perez Guadalupe, admitted policing in the nation needs to improve. He praised citizens for arresting the thieves, but condemned people for going too far, saying: “Catch your thief yes, but hand him or her over to the police. Don’t take justice into your own hands.”
Warning: This video contains extremely graphic content: