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How corrupt are the police in Bosnia?

How corrupt are the police in Bosnia?

Old Jul 13, 17, 1:00 pm
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How corrupt are the police in Bosnia?

My college-age daughter was vacationing in Dubrovnik and decided to drive over to Mostar in Bosnia. I haven't been to Bosnia myself, but I did read through the Rick Steves' chapter and it certainly seemed like a reasonable idea. I told her to go for it. Once in Bosnia, however, she was stopped by police with her Croatian plates, told that she had run a red light (she hadn't), and the officer demanded 500 euros on the spot. She said she didn't have 500 euros and didn't do anything wrong. The officer then reduced the "fine" to 65 euros. She refused to pay that, either. While it then looked dicey for a few minutes, the officer just let her go.

Is police bribery a common problem in Bosnia? I guess driving to Mostar is not as safe and easy as Rick Steves would suggest.
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Old Jul 13, 17, 1:48 pm
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Far from doubting your daughter's side of the story, but could it actually be that she went through a red light, though - how would you know if you weren't there? A language-related misunderstanding could have also played a significant part. That aside and trusting what your daughter is saying, I can tell you that I've been coming to Bosnia on a weekly basis (work) for quite a few months now and had several friends coming over visiting from Britain/Italy/Poland (mostly driving from other parts of the region) and nobody ever reported even the slightest attempt of bribery from the local forces. Incidentally, I also got stopped a couple of times and always found police officers extremely friendly, once I was unable to get myself understood in English (which is my main language) and switched to Polish, a rather funny situation as they could obviously get some words and they asked whereabouts in Russia am I from (my Mrs, from Poland, was clearly not impressed) On the whole, not an issue as far as I've experienced so far.

G
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Old Jul 13, 17, 4:52 pm
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Originally Posted by AlicorporateUK View Post
Far from doubting your daughter's side of the story, but could it actually be that she went through a red light, though - how would you know if you weren't there? A language-related misunderstanding could have also played a significant part. That aside and trusting what your daughter is saying, I can tell you that I've been coming to Bosnia on a weekly basis (work) for quite a few months now and had several friends coming over visiting from Britain/Italy/Poland (mostly driving from other parts of the region) and nobody ever reported even the slightest attempt of bribery from the local forces. Incidentally, I also got stopped a couple of times and always found police officers extremely friendly, once I was unable to get myself understood in English (which is my main language) and switched to Polish, a rather funny situation as they could obviously get some words and they asked whereabouts in Russia am I from (my Mrs, from Poland, was clearly not impressed) On the whole, not an issue as far as I've experienced so far.

G
Anything is possible, but I think we can all agree that police officers in non-corrupt countries don't ask drivers to pay 500 euro fines "on the spot" for supposed red light violations. And then somehow agree the fine should be 1/8th as much when they don't get the higher amount.

And, despite your good experiences, I see on tripadvisor that this is a common problem:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/ShowTopi...rzegovina.html

FWIW, many years ago, right after the Berlin Wall fell, I had similar problems in other Eastern European countries. In the Czech Republic, for example, I was pulled over (along with everyone else driving German plates) by officers who claimed we didn't come to a complete stop while merging from an exit ramp. We had to pay our "fines" in cash. I contacted the US Embassy and they were aware of the problem, but there was little they could do. Corruption happens. It's always unfortunate.

Last edited by iahphx; Jul 13, 17 at 4:57 pm
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Old Jul 13, 17, 4:58 pm
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Originally Posted by iahphx View Post
but I think we can all agree that police officers in non-corrupt countries don't ask drivers to pay 500 euro fines "on the spot."

Erm, NO. Not at all.

There are various countries where quite high fines do need to be paid on the spot.
In some cases they can allow you to travel to a cashpoint, etc.

But failure to pay fines on the spot (including high value fines) can result in either being placed in custody or seizing of vehicle, etc.
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Old Jul 13, 17, 5:02 pm
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I see you've edited to add:

And then somehow agree the fine should be 1/8th as much when they don't get the higher amount.
Well don't think that is necessarily corruption. It could simply be that they didn't fancy doing the paper work or going to the hassle of taking it further.

They might have initially considered to reduce the offence (to something attracting a lesser fine) or only to pass a fine for one element, but then when they did not have that either. (and perhaps having become comforted with their honest intent over the course of the conversation) and then decided they didn't fancy the paper work for taking it further and let it go.


That said, I agree it is not necessarily honest - but it is NOT necessarily dishonest either. Especially with some language barrier confusion.
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Old Jul 14, 17, 12:37 am
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The story told by OP's daughter could have been from the times of Tito! The exactly same thing happened to my brother in law on two occasions in the 70s, the way out back then was to offer to pay the fine in dinar. There are similar stories told by every third person driving on the Autoput from Austria to Greece (which, though, did not go through Bosnia). It seems like old habits of the Yugoslavian police are difficult to be forgotten by some of their successors...
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Old Jul 14, 17, 6:46 am
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Originally Posted by KLouis View Post
The story told by OP's daughter could have been from the times of Tito! The exactly same thing happened to my brother in law on two occasions in the 70s, the way out back then was to offer to pay the fine in dinar. There are similar stories told by every third person driving on the Autoput from Austria to Greece (which, though, did not go through Bosnia). It seems like old habits of the Yugoslavian police are difficult to be forgotten by some of their successors...
These things are certainly unpleasant at the time, but they do create lifelong memories. My daughter already understands this. She texted me: "Haha the first time I get pulled over by the cops in my life is in Bosnia."

Few Americans have that type of story to tell. The magic of travel, I guess.
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Old Jul 14, 17, 6:55 am
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Originally Posted by David-A View Post
Erm, NO. Not at all.

There are various countries where quite high fines do need to be paid on the spot.
In some cases they can allow you to travel to a cashpoint, etc.

But failure to pay fines on the spot (including high value fines) can result in either being placed in custody or seizing of vehicle, etc.
Decades ago the procedure in West Germany for minor traffic violations was to pay the fine in cash on the spot, with the police officer giving the driver a tamper proof receipt so that they had to turn in the money. It was offered as an easy alternative procedure.
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Old Jul 14, 17, 9:14 am
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In some parts of the US, driving with an out-of-state license when violating a traffic rule may result in having to pay the fine before being released by the police. I've had to go into police stations under such circumstances and I found it interesting. One such driver in a state neighboring MSP's home state had insufficient funds and the option for the driver from out East was to either have someone pay the fine on the spot (at the station) or wait until court was open more than 24 hours later. Not great options.

While corrupt traffic police are an issue in parts of Europe, Bosnia also, its better in Bosnia than in some other parts of the FYR. It could just as well be a demand to pay the fine or get hauled into the police station for detention. Having an out of jurisdiction DL can be a major hassle -- even in places not widely known for corruption, say Sweden. At least in the FYR, being an American driver without cash on hand can be a convenient way to avoid paying for traffic violations, if it becomes obviously inconvenient to the police.

American drivers in Europe often don't know all the relevant traffic laws to their drives and thus would be easy targets for traffic tickets. More so if the police keep an eye on such drivers for more than a very brief moment.

Last edited by GUWonder; Jul 14, 17 at 9:22 am
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Old Jul 14, 17, 1:44 pm
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There does seem to be something about driving that brings out the worst in government. It's really the only thing I know of that can easily get you in trouble with the law for doing something close to nothing.

The USA is no exception, as we have plenty of small town (and some big town) speed traps, and a few dubious red light and speed cameras (like the infamous exit ramp speed cameras in DC).

Many Western European countries and other "civilized" places like Australia sometimes post lower-than-they-should-be speed limits and have cameras that will ticket you for going only a couple of km over those limits. Electronic enforcement mechanisms make it much easier for gov't to hand out more tickets. Many of these things are easy for the locals to avoid (like they know where the cameras usually are), but often trap travellers.

Good ol' corruption is usually the least of the travelling driver's worries, but I see it is still alive and well in some locales. A pity, really, but human nature is what it is.
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Old Jul 18, 17, 3:07 pm
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Bosnia police are corrupt, so what your daughter experienced was probably a request for a bribe. She did the correct thing by not giving in.

That said, as mentioned above, there are places where on-the-spot fines are the norm, especially for foreign licenses. Portugal is one such place where some things are subject to on-the-spot fines. The police take cards and even have ATMs with them. When paying such fines a receipt will, of course, be issued, and the info will be recorded in a database, preventing the police from pocketing the cash.
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Old Jul 18, 17, 7:30 pm
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Originally Posted by Palal View Post
... The police take cards and even have ATMs with them...
I guess that by ATM you mean POS: I doubt that, even if friendly, the Portuguese police would be providing bank services...
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Old Jul 18, 17, 9:59 pm
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Originally Posted by KLouis View Post
The story told by OP's daughter could have been from the times of Tito!
Ya, I was thinking along the same lines.

Trouble is, in many countries cops are so badly underpaid, they resort to this sort of thing.

Google Mexico cops and morbida (colloquial word for bribe).

Glad she stood her ground, though I've read it could get ugly in Mexico if you try to do that.
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Old Jul 19, 17, 3:54 am
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Originally Posted by KLouis View Post
I guess that by ATM you mean POS: I doubt that, even if friendly, the Portuguese police would be providing bank services...
Sir, I'm afraid we don't accept cards however there's an ATM in the boot of the car should you wish to get some cash out in order to pay the fine



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Old Jul 19, 17, 10:00 am
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Reminds me of a fun story some years ago when I was caught "speeding" by a police officer while driving a Yugo GT-55 (they were probably high on drugs at the Zastava car plant when they named it a "Grand Tourer").

I can't recall the amount of the fine, but it seemed outrageously high as well so we demanded to be taken to the police station.

As we just came from Serbia and had not yet withdrawn any currency from an ATM, we would anyway need cash first from an ATM, which we explained to the mediocre English-speaking cop.

Yet as he did not fully understand that we had no money on us, I showed my empty wallet and took out my bank card making a movement explaining I need to take money first at a bank.

He took my card for a few seconds, inspected it, gave it back, and said with a sad face: "But we don't have any banks in Kosovo."

After ten seconds he said "go, go" and we were left bewildered not sure what we would do. We drove of slowly to be sure that it wasn't some misunderstanding, but the cop indeed let us off, probably disappointed that we had no money for a bribe and unwilling to play along.

Of course, 5 miles down the road in the first town we immediately encountered two banks with ATMs. What the heck, no banks in Kosovo?

A bit more on topic: driving around the region Kosovar cops were a big hassle and seemingly corrupt, although we actually never ended up paying a fine even though we broke a traffic law or two.

In Bosnia we never had a problem. In Croatia there was a dodgy looking plain-clothes cop (although seemingly with proper ID) who wanted to inspect our car and see our papers at a rest stop, but he could not find anything and wished us goodbye and a nice trip after 5-10 minutes.

Key is not to hand over money (even if this is the law in many countries, eg. in Netherlands foreign drivers also need to pay at the same moment, although they can drive to an ATM) - best is to convince them to be taken to a nearby police station. That will shake off 99% of corrupt cops.
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