LETTER: No effective campaign to root out police corruption in Guyana

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Dear Editor,
Police ‘shakedowns’ (demand for a bribe for an alleged moving violation) of motorists are very common on the coast of Guyana. I experienced it a few times, and countless experiences of others were related to me as I travelled around Guyana and among the diaspora.
The population also feels police shakedown is a common practice, and that the Government – preceding ones also — has not done much to curb or stamp out police bribery. As many people reveal, to say elements of the police are corrupt is an understatement, as the police seek bribes in virtually every significant act; and not only from motorists alone. It is also important to note that there are some honest Police who do their work and don’t seek or take bribes, but they are a small minority.
As related to me by several who had the experience, if your vehicle (minibus in particular) is from a far home distance, say from Corriverton, and you are heading up to the airport, the chance of being pulled over and experience a shakedown is high. And you could receive several shakedowns on one trip.
Going to court is time-consuming, and you lose more money by being away from work. The Police have the upper hand, as the system is not in the interest of drivers or law and order on the roads.
One can attempt to avoid the shakedown, with limited success.
There is no effective campaign to root out police corruption, or even bad cops. The Government can take measures to clamp down on corruption. As happens in other societies; there can be sting operations. But no Government has shown courage to go after rogue cops.
But do keep in mind that there are police that I and others met who really have been trying to do their jobs. They don’t have the support system, and corrupt police make them look bad.
Yours truly,
Vishnu Bisram

 

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