Why people and police are not on par?Watch out, a cop [Archives:2003/642/Opinion]

June 19 2003

By Raidan Abdulaziz Al_Saqqaf*
Why are the people and the cops not on par?
Citizen A: Because I always expect an assault from a police officer.
Citizen B: Because I always expect a will to be bribed.
Citizens C, D & X: Because nothing but trouble comes from a cop.

People respect the police; they are the regulators and order keepers all around the world.
But In Yemen, among many other third world countries, they have a slightly different role that makes people fear even entering a police station if they were victims. Why?
Because when you enter a police station, you might either have to pay bribes to file your complaint or report an incident, or be arrested especially if the officer in charge didn't like you or a third party wanted to have you arrested even if it was unlawful and on no basis. The officer in charge perhaps knows that no one will hold him accountable for his act, after all, isn't he the same person who is supposed to maintain law and order?
Ok, why does a citizen expect an assault from a police officer? For example if you are driving your car along the road, and you hear a police officer from his car screaming at you “janneb ya hemmar” meaning: “stand aside you moron”, it happened to you before, didn't it?
Unfortunately, the will to be bribed doesn't apply to cops only, it applies to many government employees, as long as he can make your life more difficult and miserable, unless you pay him the (you know what).
As for law and order, safety and security, the tourism industry in Yemen has suffered a lot as a result of some negative phenomena, Let me show you the contrast: you get an EU visa to go to Italy, for example, there after as you arrive in Italy, you can go to the nearest railway station to buy a ticket to wherever elsewhere in Europe you want to go and get in the train and leave. If you were a Westerner touring Yemen, however, first you have to inform your embassy and the security authority, who will send along with you a “Taqm”, i.e. a military vehicle with some 6 armed personnel. How comfortable will your tour be now? Especially if some of them indecently harass you? It happens, trust me, it does.
Back to why the people and the cops are not on par. In our society, there is a hierarchy of levels, each consists of people with similar characteristics. However, all these levels ought to vanish in the eyes of the law, but is this the case in reality? Is law treating people as equals? Never mind the law. Would everybody entering the police station get the same treatment? Or would some pay bribes, some get jailed, some walk around unnoticed, some enter armed with guns and machine-guns? One of our revolution's goals published everyday in “Al-Thawra” newspaper says that people will be treated as equals, but it seems that complaints always fall on deaf ears.
Again, aren't police and military people the ones who have been terrorizing the Iraqi people in the name of Saddam Hussein and his government in Iraq? And they are probably the same people who betrayed him as soon as the Americans came? And again these are perhaps the same people waiting for you to enter the police station to “get you”.
I sincerely wish that whatever you have read so far is untrue, but indeed, it is a sad world we live in, and I hereby reach out to our government officials, and say: Please, do something about it, and the least you can do I presume is hold these police officers in each and every police station accountable for whatever illegal acts they do, so that they would not arrest citizens with no legal basis and commit such unlawful acts. The government should act so that whenever a mother sarcastically tells her son “Eat your food or I will call the cop to come and get you” he replies: “the cop can't hurt me or arrest me because our interior ministry has passed a resolution that he cannot do so anymore without a court order!”.

* A freelance journalist and a business writer with the Yemen Times, he can be reached at [email protected]