Warsaw Residents Hit Streets in Protest

Dozens of people took to the streets in Warsaw on Feb. 29 to protest against bribery. The demonstration took place on the National Day Without a Bribe. The word of the day was: “I don’t give, I don’t take any bribes.”

The demonstrators – representatives of students, local councils and social organizations – burned envelopes in front of the hospital on Nowogrodzka Street. Passers-by were given figs, a Polish symbol of the fight against bribery.

The National Day Without a Bribe was organized by the Normal Country Organization, which includes: lawyers, engineers, businessmen, economists, architects, doctors and many others who are against corruption, demagogy and deprivation. “One of the most dramatic forms of corruption is this daily corruption, e.g. giving bribes to ticket-inspectors,” Hubert Kubik, coordinator of the protest, told the daily newspaper Gazeta Wyborcza.

According to the Transparency Organization, five percent of those surveyed in Poland said they had paid bribes in the past year. Based on this information, the organization assumes that each year two million people in Poland pay bribes. The number is probably even higher, because some people won’t admit paying bribes. For comparison: only one percent of the respondents in Switzerland and Sweden said they had paid bribes.

The Supreme Audit Chamber (NIK) has uncovered substantial evidence of corruption and identified the following areas as “most seriously threatened by corruption: privatization, management of public property, activities of special purpose funds and agencies, public procurement, quotas and licenses, tax administration, customs, inspection bodies, the police and funding scientific research.”

According to Polish law, acceptance of a bribe is punishable by 6 months to 10 years imprisonment. Public servants who accept considerable material gains or the promise of such gains are subject to two to 12 years. Bribery is defined as an act implying that money or a gift alters the behaviour of a person in ways not consistent with the duties of that person. The bribe may include money, goods, property, preferment, privileges, or any promise or undertaking to induce or influence the action, vote or influence of a person in an official or public capacity.

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