BRIBERY STARTS AT HOME

  • 2007-08-29
  • William Butt, Stockholm
I am a resident of Sweden. I have been traveling regularly by car to Latvia and Lithuania since 1998.
I have read with interest your article in which Latvian Police chief Aldis Lieljuksis' claims that a new database will assist in fighting corruption amongst police officers. But my experience is that it is not only the police who accept bribes 's the people of Latvia and Lithuania accept bribery as a normal part of their daily lives.
If you ask almost any Latvian or Lithuanian motorist they will tell you that they prefer to give the police a bribe when caught for speeding than to go the "protokoll way." The difference for the motorist is sometimes between 10 lats and 200 lats. Obviously he will choose the cheaper method, which is bribery!

In Lithuania it is commonly accepted amongst motorists that the police have so bad salaries that they need bribes in order to survive. The Lithuanian motorists who get caught for speeding have no qualms about giving bribes, and the police accept them.
So all this makes me wonder, how can a database fight bribery? Surely one must start by changing the attitude of people. In Latvia a few years ago I heard of a case of a person who was released from a long prison sentence for a drug conviction after having paid 1,000 lats to the prison officials so that the documents relating to his prison sentence would "disappear."

Let me remind you that the Baltic States are part of the EU. How long will this go on? Everyone knows it's happening 's nobody denies it. Isn't it a little naive of Aldis Lieljuksis to believe that his new database will stop corruption when the heart of corruption in Latvia (and Lithuania) lies with the people and not only with the police?
 

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