Tana Island, Vanuatu


Thieves will be lynched and burned alive, El Alto, Bolivia

Travelling through Bolivia we were first shocked when spotted a doll hanging from an electricity pole. It was a human size and looked dirty, burnt and badly beaten with a sign ladron que… sea sorprendido sera linchado y quemado vivo. This translates to thieves who are caught will be lynched and burned alive and is just a simple local initiative to remind the bad guys what may happen if they break the law here.

Probably the most meaningful encounter of the lynched-thug-doll was in El Alto, where it was hanging just on the top of the hill, overlooking La Paz. The rich live below in Bolivian Capital, the poor 500 metres higher in El Alto.

Residents of the areas of the city of La Paz agree with taking vigilante justice against criminals who roam their areas. They believe hanging rag dolls serves as a warning to criminals and is a necessary security measure they take to fight the frequent assaults and robberies.

Of all the conflicts of law that occur in communities, 70% are addressed and resolved by the indigenous, native, peasant justice. The remaining 30% is referred to the ordinary courts because they are more complex cases such as murder, rape, sexual abuse, etc.

The original indigenous justice continues in any local community. Every week they gather for a day or two in order to analyse and resolve conflicts as the ordinary courts do not reach those communities. The only authorities to resolve conflicts of the community members are natural and native.

You can find the dolls hanging all over the city of La Paz and El Alto. They serve as a simple reminder for anyone who might undertake any criminal activities. Hanging on electricity poles dolls are the actual size of a human and are dressed in worn clothes. It is to represent a thief lynched for committing criminal acts.

This led to cases of lynching in several country towns in Bolivia. “Ladrón que sea sorprendido será linchado y quemado vivo” meaning “Thief who is caught will be lynched and burned alive” is the sign posted on the dolls hanging on poles. Sometimes this is the only security measure taken by the neighbourhood councils against the criminals. People defend this saying they no longer have confidence in the ordinary courts, claiming that offenders spend 48 hours at the Police Station then are released back on the streets.” Source: http://servindi.org