Money makes big crimes small, as corruption in the police and judiciary rampant in Mon State

October 11, 2017

HURFOM Serious crimes such as those related to the drug trade can be reduced or dismissed by bribing authorities with a small fortune, according to a local in southern Ye Township, Mon State.

The police arrested my nephew for having seven pills of methamphetamine. [But] he is just a real user, [not a trafficker]. They had to bribe the doctor who did the urine drug test in order to make the test negative. As the police and the doctor were working in cooperation, [they had to bribe them] more than 1.5 million kyat (US $1,110.98). The crime of using drugs can be dismissed like this,” said Nai O— from R Ru Tong village, southern Ye Township, Mon State.

Last year, a 22-year-old villager of R Ru Tong was arrested by the Thanbyuzayat Township police for drug use and trafficking and sent to Mawlamyine for trial proceedings. Before the trial was concluded, his family had to use more than 20 million kyat (US $14,813.50) to bribe the authorities in order to manipulate the investigation, including receiving negative urine drug test results and ensuring detention in jail was not too harsh.

We had to use money everywhere. If you don’t use money, the trial decision will not be made easily. We had to bribe them with more than 1.5 million kyat for [a negative] urine drug test. Hiring a lawyer would cost us more than 1.5 million kyat. We had to bribe the judge with about 1 million kyat (US $740.91). In conclusion, the trial proceedings lasted for a year and we had to use more than 20 million kyat, excluding other small expenses,” said the uncle of a villager who had been charged with drug use and trafficking.

As soon as you are arrested, the police say the legal proceedings must be sent to Naypyidaw and they demand 400,000 kyat (US $296.36). To go to the Mawlamyine police station, you have to hire a car for about 100,000 kyat (US $74.09). You have to hire a car again to go from the police station to the court. There were too many things to do such as going for a urine drug test, hiring a lawyer, and bribing the judge. I can’t remember everything. You had to use money everywhere. After that, the possible six-year imprisonment was reduced to 2 years in prison. It was such a relief. But you had to spend lots of money. You had to bribe many departments [and individuals]. An ordinary criminal case will cost you about 10 million kyat (US $7,408.68),” said Nai O— of R Ru Tong.

Lawyers and activists have repeatedly complained about the long trial times, which may take up to several years, and the costs associated with travelling to and from multiple court proceedings. For an overview of the challenges to accessing justice in Mon State, see ‘Cracks in the Silence: Sexual violence against children and challenges to accessing justice in Mon state and Mon areas of southeast Burma.”

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