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Death Squads

Police and military personnel who kill people without legal orders. Many countries where the rule of law does not operate may have death squads. In several countries they kill street children. Other targets are criminals whom the police claim cannot be convicted by a court.

Their presence could be considered a sign of political pathology. In the Nazi state and its imitators the official police takes on this role - so that there is no distinction between police and criminals.

In the United States there is a genre of film and popular fiction in which people have a fantasy of revenge against criminals or others. Films and videos of this kind (including the Rambo series) may be an incitement to break the law and create the psychological climate in which death squads or vigilante groups can operate.

The most notorious countries have been:

The practice has been alleged in Northern Ireland (Shoot to kill).

India is also alleged to have death squads.

In the past several other countries have been alleged to have the activity.

In some cases it can be shown that private (rich) citizens pay for killings of enemies, or political opponents and in Brazil street children.

In Argentina during the "dirty war" the death squads appear to have been authorized by the military rulers. The same was true of Chile and Peru (which may have returned to the practice under a recent military government). In Rwanda government-supplied militias have killed over half a million people.

Israel targets the "leaders" of Palestinian resistance but kills many civilians too.

Last revised 1/09/09


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