The leaders of Peru’s Regional Governments are calling on the government to establish a state of emergency to combat the rise in violent crime, according to daily El Comercio.
The request from the National Assembly of Regional Governments comes after several high-profile killings this year in Peru’s provinces.
Last week, the warden of a prison in the northern city of Trujillo, Jorge Izquierdo, was gunned down at midday as he ate lunch with other employees of Peru’s penitentiary institute. Authorities believe that the killing was carried out by hitmen hired by inmates of the prison, ironically called El Milagro. Investigations have so far led to several prisoners but police or prison guards are also suspected to be involved. Izquierdo recently had planned to move 51 high-risk prisoners to the maximum security Challapalca prison in the high Andes of Puno, in southernmost Peru.
Although the crime rate in Trujillo is higher and more violent than in most other cities in Peru, several officials in regional and municipal governments have also been murdered this year by hired hitmen, often underaged killers.
The Minister of the Interior, Wilfredo Pedraza, said the police will be providing special protection to the wardens of “the dangerous prisons.”
“We are lacking short term policies to stop this crime,” said Javier Atkins the head of the National Assembly of Regional Governments and the President of the northern region of Piura.
“We are reaching a point where life isn’t worth anything, that’s why the central government should declare the issue of citizen security an emergency,” he said.
“We can’t continue to allow incidents like this to occur in the country,” Atkins added, referring to the murder of the prison warden.
Atkins said this would allow the government to take faster and more drastic measures to curb crime.
Many Peruvians feel that crime is out of control, even though government statistics show that it is lower than other countries in Latin America. Some security analysts question the government stats. Reducing crime is regularly cited as a top concern of the population.