Genuine leadership required to promote public resistance to corruption

Dear Editor,

Please allow me to add to a public discussion now current, on bribery of traffic policemen. When driving or being driven on the coastland, I carry with me a copy of a leaflet issued by the Police Complaints Authority, and scan it conspicuously in the presence of any officer that approaches in a routine stop. In future I intend to use the same leaflet to intervene any time I observe the kind of activity now recounted and so widely commented upon.

I am aware of two linked offences in the criminal law: one of a public officer demanding or accepting a bribe, and the other of bribing a public officer. These twin crimes have come to pervade the Guyanese culture. There are indications, even from junior policemen, that bribery spreads not from the bottom up, but in a trickle-down effect. There is no sign of any internal action to curb its prevalence, but reshuffles of top posts in the Force will not help.

A citizen’s duty is not only to avoid the crime of offering or giving a bribe, but also to report the crime of demanding or accepting a bribe. The Police Complaints Authority offers a means of reporting the latter, but most of us seem unwilling to get into that, or indeed any bureaucratic web. I am afraid it will require genuine leadership in our society to promote public resistance to the epidemic social disease of corruption.

Yours faithfully,

Gordon Forte

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