Vigilante homicides in contemporary Ghana

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This article provides a systematic analysis of vigilante homicides that occurred in Ghana, West Africa, during 1990-2000. Through the use of newspaper accounts, the study identified the socio-demographic characteristics of victims, spatial distribution, modus operandi, and the circumstances of death. The data suggested that young urban males suspected or accused of robbery, larceny, and other forms of theft were most often victims of vigilante killings. Mob attacks were spontaneous and the assaults involved the use of weapons available on the scene, such as stones, sticks, clubs, and personal weapons. Factors contributing to the escalation of vigilantism in the society included an under-resourced police force, poor police-civilian relations, burgeoning crime rate, a slow and overburdened judiciary, heightened public fear of crime, and a breakdown in traditional methods of dispute resolution. The article also reports on a survey that targeted the attitudes of a sample of law enforcement officers towards vigilantism in Ghana.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)413-427
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Criminal Justice
Issue number5
StatePublished - 2005


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