MOB JUSTICE – A qualitative research regarding vigilante justice in modern Uganda.

University essay from Göteborgs universitet/Institutionen för socialt arbete

Abstract: Mob justice can be explained as a situation where a crowd of people, sometimes several hun-dred, take the law into their own hands, act as accusers, jury and judge and punish an alleged criminal on the spot. This procedure often ends up with the victim being beaten to death or seriously injured. After a self witnessed mob justice situation we had a lot of questions that needed to be answered in order for us to understand this phenomenon. Our purpose is to increase our knowledge and understanding of the mob justice phenomenon and also examine how it can be prevented. The research questions are as follows:1. What are the causes of mob justice?2. What happens in a mob justice situation? 3. What changes in the Ugandan society and what work related methods are adequate in order to prevent mob justice?In order to answer these questions two methods of collecting empirical data have been used; focus group discussions (six) and interviews (three). The focus group participants are social work- and law students near graduation and police trainers. The interviewees are one journalist and two professionals from two different human rights organizations. The conclusions of the study shows that mob justice is a complex phenomenon and the major causes lies on a structural level in the Ugandan society. The judicial system plays an important role as well as structural issues (poverty, lack of education, unemployment) attached to a lower social class. The research illustrates that the judicial system is very fragile and not trustworthy which leads to that a major part of the population takes the law into their own hands. The study shows that citizens from lower social classes are less likely to use the judicial system which also shuts people out with its structure. The group psychological mechanisms in a mob group, which describes what happens in a mob justice situation, are also connected to structural issues. All of these structural concerns create a tension that, under certain circumstances, results in mob justice. The respondents discuss several structural changes, e.g. transparency within the judicial system and improvement of the educational system, as ways of preventing mob justice and increase awareness of this issue. They primarily suggest sensitization in collaboration with different pro-fessional and public actors. However, they reflect whether sensitization is a constructive way of addressing the issue of mob justice without considering the structural causes.

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