What is Civil Death definition/concept

Civil death occurs when a public office is unable to exercise its functions. This disqualification also applies to employees or companies that have some relationship with the administration. In this sense, civil death is considered a legal fiction, as something that did not occur (death) becomes reality .

Another example of legal fiction is related to the rights of the unborn.

loss of rights

Civil death is used to indicate that a person or entity has lost a series of rights as a result of some type of serious and unlawful behavior . It is, therefore, a kind of exceptional punishment.

On certain occasions, this label is used in reference to individuals who join the religious life and, consequently, partially abandon their civil status.


In ancient Greece the sanction of exile was equivalent to the current civil death, as the banished could not exercise their rights in their place of birth. Something very similar happened during the Middle Ages with people sentenced to life in prison. In some dictatorial contexts in recent history, the concept of civil death can be equated with enforced disappearances.

A new proposal to fight political corruption

The phenomenon of political corruption concerns a large part of society in many countries. In some nations this reality has become something of a chronic disease .

In recent years, some political groups with regenerative intentions have raised the issue of civil death as a mechanism to fight corruption. In this sense, the corrupt politician sanctioned with this denomination could not return to occupy any public office, since his disqualification would be permanent and not simply temporary. There has been a great debate on this issue in Panama since the beginning of 2018 (in several popular demonstrations the label “civil death” has been used to demand greater force when punishing the corrupt).

In the case of Peru

Disqualification from holding public office is the most common way to promote legislation related to civil death. In recent years, the Andean nation has expanded the range of crimes that can lead to civil death.

In addition to the conventional crimes of corruption, other types of offenses were incorporated, such as those related to terrorism , drug trafficking and capital evasion. Thus, instead of applying a temporary disqualification, the new legislation provides for perpetual disqualification.

This new legal framework is intended to be an effective tool in the fight against large-scale corruption.

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