Notoriously Corrupt Sri Lanka Police Force Arrests Citizens For Pretending To Bribe A Cardboard Cutout Cop

from the really-working-hard-to-push-back-on-public-perception dept

Sri Lanka roads might be getting a little safer. Maybe. Along with raising fines for speeding, police agencies are also deploying fake cops. Cardboard cutouts of officers have been placed alongside roads as a deterrent.

These cardboard replicants may be these agencies' only honest cops. The State Department's report on Sri Lanka says police in the country routinely engage in arbitrary arrests and "harass civilians with impunity." This harassment often takes the form of soliciting bribes. Combine the two and you have officers wandering around with iron fists and open palms. Another report says the bribery is a two-way street, with officers sometimes paying off citizens to purchase their silence about other illegal police activities.

The problem with solicited bribes is large enough the government has set up a portal for citizens to file complaints about bribes solicited/paid. Fortunately, anonymity is an option. Unfortunately, the government runs the website so collected data may help pinpoint where the complaints are originating from.

So, it naturally follows that Sri Lankans -- a third of which believe the nation's police are corrupt -- are toying with the cardboard cops. In a less corrupt society, this would have led to nothing but some fun had by all. Since Sri Lanka is notoriously corrupt, it has led to this instead:

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.

Satire is dead. Or if it isn't dead, it's being detained and charged.

The obvious point here is the police's bad public image has been created by the police. When citizens are filming what everyone's thinking, the best course of action would be to laugh it off and maybe say a few words no one will believe about "bad apples." Instead, law enforcement has decided to create an international incident by arresting two people having a little fun with stereotypes. Having a stereotypical reaction isn't going to do much to buff out the dents in law enforcement's "bad public image."

Hide this

Thank you for reading this Techdirt post. With so many things competing for everyone’s attention these days, we really appreciate you giving us your time. We work hard every day to put quality content out there for our community.

Techdirt is one of the few remaining truly independent media outlets. We do not have a giant corporation behind us, and we rely heavily on our community to support us, in an age when advertisers are increasingly uninterested in sponsoring small, independent sites — especially a site like ours that is unwilling to pull punches in its reporting and analysis.

While other websites have resorted to paywalls, registration requirements, and increasingly annoying/intrusive advertising, we have always kept Techdirt open and available to anyone. But in order to continue doing so, we need your support. We offer a variety of ways for our readers to support us, from direct donations to special subscriptions and cool merchandise — and every little bit helps. Thank you.

–The Techdirt Team

Filed Under: bribery, cardboard cutout, corruption, police, sri lanka


Reader Comments

Subscribe: RSS

View by: Thread


  1. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 9 Jan 2019 @ 7:33am

    "a third of which believe the nation's police are corrupt"

    Makes one wonder about the other 2/3.

Add Your Comment

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here



Subscribe to the Techdirt Daily newsletter




Comment Options:

  • Use markdown. Use plain text.
  • Remember name/email/url (set a cookie)

Follow Techdirt
Special Affiliate Offer

Essential Reading
Techdirt Deals
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Techdirt Insider Chat
Recent Stories
.

This site, like most other sites on the web, uses cookies. For more information, see our privacy policy. Got it
Close

Email This

This feature is only available to registered users. Register or sign in to use it.