Guatemala Reports 500% Rise in Attempted Lynchings

Vigilante justice is on the rise in Guatemala, according to a new government report, which says that extra-judicial attacks have shot up more than five-fold since 2004.

According to Guatemala’s attorney general for human rights, the number of attempted lynchings in 2011 has already surpassed last year’s total.

The report (pdf) provides details on the number, sex and location of those injured and killed in these types of attacks in 2011. There had been 131 distinct vigilante incidents by September, with many involving multiple victims. Prensa Libre updates the government’s data, reporting that a total of 147 attempted lynchings had occurred through October of this year. Forty-seven people were killed.

The majority of fatal incidents took place in the western highlands department of Huehuetenago, where 16 people were killed and 31 injured in 22 separate attacks.

The report is incomplete, however, because it lacks data on individuals who have been forcibly disappeared by vigilantes. In one such case, documented by Plaza Publica, witnesses in the central Solala department testified on the existence of a vigilante group known as the “Encapuchados” (The Hooded Ones), who are suspected of being involved in the disappearance of at least one local resident.

Image, above, from Reuters, shows a woman who attacked by a mob in 2009 after being accused of taking part in an armed robbery. She was sprayed with gasoline and set on fire, before being rescued by police.