By Rachid Khouya
By Rachid Khouya
Morocco World News
Es-Smara, Morocco, June 10, 2012
Changing government and ministers of interior will not change our behavior as citizens and as men and women working in public and private administrations. Unfortunately, our administrations nationwide are full of corrupt men and women who are used to taking and giving bribes to such an extent that they consider it as a right.
So what should Benkirane and his new ministers of interior and justice do to protect citizens from the wide spread bribery inside the police body all over the country? And how can we protect our society from this hazardous ‘virus`?
Talking about corrupt policemen should not be taken as a token of hatred or understood as a conspiracy against the people who are meant to defend us, protect us and provide us with security and peace by day and by night.
On the contrary, this article comes as a sign of love towards those men and women so as to help them clean the image of the police in the minds of laymen and laywomen especially that this field is full of patriotic and courageous heroes who are spending their nights awake to watch over us while we are asleep and to protect our proprieties and belongings. They face danger so as to protect us and ensure citizens’ safety.
But the reality is bitter. In Morocco, every citizen has a story with a policeman who asked him/her or a friend or a family member for a sum of money at a police stop both within cities and in the countryside. We do not need to get taken into a police station to know and understand what happens there. Corruption smells bad everywhere and causes us to sneeze and itch.
Frankly, I am not generalizing here and I am not saying that all the stories we hear are true, nor am I saying that all the citizens’ stories are lies and products of their own imagination.
The truth is that there are a lot of unsavory people inside the police body, as is the case inside all other public administrations. These people need to be fought and be put in jail instead of wearing the national uniform as they blemish and harm both their uniforms and our country’s reputation nationally and internationally.
For more than 20 years, I have been traveling from the high north to the deep south, observing the same old stories and the same behaviors at every police stop, especially in the zone between Agadir and Dakhla and Tan Tan and Es-Semara. I traveled as a student and as a teacher in all the means of transport that are available in the south: buses, taxis, trucks of vegetables and those of fish. It is the same routine: money given to those policemen so as to avoid their evil as the drivers say.
A driver of a fish truck told me once that “we are obliged to give them money so as to avoid being late to the supermarkets in Agadir or Casablanca.” He went on to explain that “if I don`t give these police officers and the royal gendarmerie at least fifty dirham, they will stop me for an hour or two. Consequently, I could not make it to Agadir port on time.”
Another driver said that one day he refused to give them bribery so he arrived to Casa port late. He said that his boss took the truck keys from him and fired him. He claimed that this is the law of the sea: “the big fish eats the small.” He concluded: “I know that bribery is against our religion and against the law; but what should we do? We are obliged to give it,” he repeated many times. “Yes, obliged to give it, obliged to give it.”
At the entry of Gulmim, TanTan, Wad chbika , Layoune, Boujdour, Dakhla and Es-Semara, drivers of all means of transport are forced to give at least ten dirham to save themselves from paying more or losing their driving licenses. The drivers say that the new Modawana gives the policemen and gendarmerie many possibilities to take your driving license.
The law on the roads is to give from whatever goods the drivers carry in their tracks. Drivers of fish tracks give them fish. Others give the police vegetables, chickens or milk. They are obliged to give them from what ever goods they carry. This applies also with the elements of the royal gendarmeries.
I think that the situation must not stay the way it is because those people instead of being real participants in “the process of completing the construction of a State based on the rule of law and on democratic institutions, and to firmly establish the principles and mechanisms of good governance, provide for dignified citizenship and ensure social justice,” as the King proposed in his speech, are destroying the cornerstone of Moroccan democracy and the dreams of both the king and the people
According to several national and international reports, corruption and impunity are pervasive in the police force. Investigations are carried out, yet they seldom result in criminal proceedings or even disciplinary action. For instance, in 2009, the US Department of State reported that the government prosecuted approximately 190 officers of the judicial police, the royal gendarmerie, the auxiliary forces, the royal navy, and prison guards for corruption.
Still, this is not enough and more measures should be taken to protect the citizens from the ‘gangsters’ wearing our national uniform and pretending to be applying the rule of law and the constitution. My suggestion is that the people who are in power must travel in trucks and taxis to see how the law is disrespected and broken by those who must be the first to respect it.
All in all, if we do not fight corruption inside our courts and police stations, nothing will change in our country. The real mission of policemen and policewomen is to protect the citizens and to serve them, not to exploit them and abuse them. It is really a shame to let those people destroy what the people are building because several members of the security forces have been indicted for being linked to drug lords, participation in drug smuggling and prostitution nets.
Editing by Benjamin Villanti
Rachid Khouya is a teacher of English in Es Smara city, south of Morocco. He obtained a Bachelor Degree in English studies from Ibn Zohr University in Agadir. He published many articles and stories in different regional and national Moroccan newspapers. He is an active member of MATE (Moroccan Association of Teachers of English). He is interested in education, human rights and citizenship.
The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Morocco World News’ editorial policy.
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