Sri Lanka police arrest two for bribing life-size cutout

bribing traffic police cutout
The man in this clip and his friend who filmed it have been released on bail

Sri Lankan police have arrested two people who posted a Facebook video showing one of them pretending to give a bribe to a traffic police cutout.

In the footage, a motorcyclist is seen offering money to the life-size figure of an officer with a speed gun in the northern town of Vavuniya.

The man in the video and his friend who filmed it have been released on bail.

They are charged with damaging public property, and humiliating and creating a bad public image of the police.

The cardboard cutout, which police say had its head damaged, is one of many which were placed on main roads last year to deter speeding and dangerous driving.

A few months ago, local police arrested two youths who had taken one home.

‘Satire, not crime’

Bribing traffic police to avoid formal fines and a long-drawn out process in court is common in Sri Lanka.

People have taken to social media to criticise the police action against the two men, said to be aged 23.

“The youth were sending a powerful message aimed at eliminating the bribery culture,” Twitter user Ameen Izzadeen told the BBC. “It’s satire, not a crime.”

Another social media user wrote: “This is not some joke. So many people are killed every year due to bad driving. There is so much the cops can do to enforce the law.”

Why is this controversial?

Transparency International, an anti-corruption NGO, told the BBC that it considers the police one of Sri Lanka’s most corrupt institutions.

“This issue is further evidenced by the lack of will to incorporate basic systems to combat petty bribery amongst traffic police,” said country head Asoka Obeysekara.

Last week police suspended two officers after a viral video showed them allegedly taking a bribe near the president’s office, which is also close to Sri Lanka’s police headquarters.

The country’s head of traffic police, Ajith Rohana, told the BBC last year they were taking measures to punish wrongdoers and urged the public to complain against such officers.


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