Increase in pay, moral teaching must to stop police bribery
That the country’s most important law enforcement agency, the police, is corrupt is not news in Bangladesh any more for it is common knowledge. What is new, and much disturbing, is that ‘corruption has replaced the chain of command within the police.’ This is not only dangerous for a populace but also a humiliating bit of information for it, which is now known, after the Asian Human Rights Commission has released its report on the issue across Asia, to the millions of Asians and beyond.
A news item by a private-sector news agency on the basis of the rights commission’s latest report and published by many newspapers, including New Age, on Saturday, reveals that one has to pay bribe to the police for registering a crime, for getting a crimes suspect arrested, for collecting and preserving evidence in criminal investigations, for getting the police to drop charges against an innocent person, for sending a body to public hospital for post-mortem examination, et cetera. Besides, police officers responsible for maintaining road traffic demand and accept bribes from drivers and transport company owners. Businessmen, rich or poor, have to pay bribes for running their businesses, legal or illegal, and even the poor hawkers selling peanuts or candy squatting on a footpath or moving around in streets or public parks must bribe the police routinely. The rights body has identified that the police have perpetually been failing to ‘credibly investigate crimes,’ which is ‘the single largest impediment within the criminal justice administration’ of Bangladesh. The failure has been attributed to the massive corruption of police officers. This is also common knowledge that the police routinely use, and that too illegally, various coercive means against citizens, crime suspects or innocent people, to secure bribes. It is difficult to substantiate the AHRC report that most officers own assets disproportionate to their legitimate income because they maintain and enjoy the assets ‘in the names of their relatives’ but one cannot have any difficulty in seeing the huge inconsistency between their legal income and the standard of living. The police have become indifferent to the fact that often the acquisition of its officers is the ‘blood,’ ‘sweat,’ ‘sigh,’ ‘tears’ and ‘curse’ of the ordinary citizens!
The pretext that they use for their illegal income is, however, the inadequate salary and they use it as a justification ‘to demand and accept bribes.’
To become police officers, people these days need to have the highest degree from the best of universities but their ‘education’ fails to make them realise that nothing can eventually justify corrupt practices that breeds injustice in a society.
Nevertheless, the AHRC report has not mentioned about a major source of injustice by the police, which is corrupt practices of political authorities supervising the law enforcement agencies. It is often alleged that the political authorities demand and receive bribes for the promotion and posting of officers, who eventually take bribes from people to get back the money, with profits, that they have already paid to the politicians concerned. Under these circumstances, long-awaited police reforms with a special emphasis on increasing the salaries and moral teachings for police officers and politicians are the answer. But for that to happen, a social movement of the politically conscious and morally committed section of society is a must.
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