December 27, 2006

Illegal Arrest

Our plumber is in jail right now. Last night around 10 PM, some gendarmes (police) picked up up from his house and locked him up. Motive: none. One of his neighbors with whom he has recurring disagreements saw a group of gendarmes patrolling the area, he gave them a little cash to have his neighbor put in jail.

This morning, we sent a bailiff to the jail to report on the plumber's presence there. There is no written record of the plumber being held. There is no police report. There is not a single document to attest that he was arrested, why he was arrested or that he is actually being held.

Upon seeing the bailiff and one of our employees who went to the jail, the gendarmes tried to explain that he they arrested him for being drunk and that they would release him as soon as he is sober. Hen? You arrest someone in his house, half dressed because you say he was inebriated? No complaint filed, no report?

We are doing what we can to have the plumber released and we will likely succeed. Unfortunately, this is a story we hear all too often. Police officers will arrest anyone with just a few dollars. There is a new criminal code that goes into effect in a few days that is supposed to prevent such arbitrary arrests. But like everything else in this country, the problem is not the law, it is the application of the laws. The current laws do not allow people to be arrested for no motive, yet our plumber has already spent one night in jail.

In a recent Transparency International report on corruption in this country, the police was held as the most corrupt institution, followed closely by the judiciary. If the two institutions that are there to uphold the law are the ones most responsible for breaking it, what good is the law? I have never heard that any police officer has ever been arrested for corruption. A couple judges were disciplined for being corrupt. They were placed on early retirement and for the most egregious case, without pension. Basically, total impunity.

Until police officers and judges are made to pay for their crimes, they will continue to disregard the law.

Our plumber is lucky. We are around to help him. What about the others who have no voice and no possibility to speak out?

This place is nuts... Or is it me?

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