MEXICO

Video shows Mexican mob lynching suspected rapist

This screenshot was taken from a gruesome video showing the mob lynching of a Mexican man. The video has been circulating on social media since the incident on June 8.
This screenshot was taken from a gruesome video showing the mob lynching of a Mexican man. The video has been circulating on social media since the incident on June 8.

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An amateur video filmed in northern Mexico shows a man, lying frozen on the ground, getting kicked in the face over and over again by an angry mob, who accuse him of raping a little girl. In the past few days, this video showing a brutal act of popular justice has gone viral. Our Observer says that this video highlights how little trust Mexicans have in the justice system and how some decide to take matters into their own hands.

The incident in the video took place on June 8 in Reservas Territoriales, a low-income neighborhood in Nuevo Laredo, a city in Tamaulipas, a Mexican state that shares a border with the United States.

The amateur footage shows several people kicking a man, who is already clearly in pain while others discuss his fate: are they going to hand him over to the police or are they going to bring him somewhere else, where no one will be able to find him and he won’t be able to receive medical help?

“He raped a girl,” a voice says.

“Oh my god, they are going to kill him,” says another voice.

According to the local press, the man in the video kidnapped a four-year-old girl, and after neighbours found him with the girl, the locals started beating him. The man was later transferred to a local hospital, where he died six hours later.

Shortly after the incident, local authorities confirmed that the child had been raped. However, the authorities did not confirm that the man who had been lynched, whose identity remains unknown, was the rapist. Authorities are also still analysing evidence collected from the child that might determine the identity of the rapist. Law enforcement officials are also searching for people who participated in the mob killing.

WARNING: The following images are shocking

Excerpts from the video of the lynching that has been circulating on social media.

"People carry out this kind of mob punishment because they don’t have faith in the judicial system”

Francisco Rivas is the director general of the Observatorio Nacional Ciudadano, a civil society group focused on security and justice.

In Mexico, people sometimes take the law into their own hands and punish suspected criminals, especially those accused of theft, rape or kidnapping. Sometimes, they just beat the suspected criminal up. Other times, they might go even further. We’ve seen cases where people have used batons to beat suspected criminals. Sometimes, they might even use knives or guns. We’ve also seen cases where the accused is strangled.

Most of the time, these acts of popular punishment are carried out in suburban areas, which are traditionally home to much lower-income populations and where there is little police presence.

People carry out this kind of mob punishment because they don’t have faith in the judicial system [Editor’s note: People in Mexico only report about 7% of crimes, which shows a lack of faith in the justice system, according to research carried out by a team at the Global Index for Impunity in Mexico.]

When people report a crime to the police, they might have to wait years before a ruling. Also, there is a huge problem with impunity in Mexico [Editor’s note: An estimated 98 to 99% of crimes go unpunished, according to the Global Index for Impunity in Mexico.] And even when the justice system does work, people often aren’t satisfied by the punishment handed out by the court. The convicted person might have to pay a fine or go to prison, while the public often asks for a much more serious punishment.

In order to decrease the number of lynchings or cases of mob justice, we need the judicial system to work both better and faster. We also need to create a culture that is respectful of law and society so that people don’t seek to carry out justice on their own terms.

"Rich Mexicans often hire private security companies"

People also take the law into their hands in other ways. For example, people living in the areas where we see these cases of popular punishment have also formed self-defence groups and militias as a way to protect themselves and their communities against growing insecurity.

We saw a lot of popular militias formed in Michoacán state, in particular, shortly after former president Enrique Peña Nieto was elected in 2012. At that time, a bunch of young women were kidnapped and raped by criminal gangs. Local people set up these militias because they didn’t think that the authorities were doing enough. In 2014, these groups were absorbed into rural police forces.

In parallel, rich Mexicans often hire private security companies because they don’t have faith in law enforcement here either!

In Mexico, 366 lynchings were reported in local and national newspapers between 1988 and 2014, according to a study carried out by Mexico’s Universidad Autónoma Metropolitana Unidad Azcapotzalco. This study also highlights an increase in the number of mob killings reported over the past few years.

Our Observer, however, says that it is hard to confirm that the number has actually risen:

“There have always been lynchings. The only difference is that, in the past few years, we’ve started talking more about it because there are more photos and videos being circulated”.

Even though it is illegal, people are rarely punished for participating in an act of mob justice, according to the university study previously mentioned.