LA PAZ – Bolivian police rescued and later arrested a teacher whom residents in the western town of Caranavi tried to bury alive after he allegedly raped a 10-year-old girl, local media reported Thursday.
The head of the Children’s Advocate Office in Caranavi, Francisco Rodriguez, told Erbol Radio that at least two young girls claimed they had been abused by the teacher and forensic exams determined that one of them had been raped.
The residents of the Taypi Playa district of Caranavi, where the alleged incidents took place, on Wednesday tried to bury the teacher alive, but he was rescued by police and is still in custody at the disposition of the Attorney General’s Office, which has been handed the case.
Lynchings of alleged criminals are frequent occurrences in Bolivia and, as legal experts have warned, they show that de facto capital punishment exists in the country at the hands of enraged mobs.
Members of the mobs say that they are carrying out so-called indigenous community justice, a practice acknowledged in the 2009 Constitution but which does not allow for the death penalty or physical punishment of presumed criminals.
Bolivian authorities and international entities, including the United Nations, have expressed their concern over these acts that – in many cases – police cannot prevent given that they often occur in rural areas where there are no law enforcement officers who can, or are willing to, confront large and furious crowds.
According to human rights defense organizations, in Bolivia there are between 10 and 20 fatal lynchings each year, along with a larger number of failed attempts.