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In recent times, particularly over the past couple of years (2016 and 2017) Kuwait has witnessed a high rate of crimes related to fraud, money laundering and impersonation as evidenced by court papers and the crime rate continues to rise in 2018.
Impersonation is punishable by imprisonment not exceeding two years according to Article 126 which includes deception and forgery.
According to Articles from 53 to 57 a person cannot be referred for inspection unless the officer carries a search and arrest warrant issued by the Public Prosecution.
However, a person can also be referred for inspection if he/she behaves abnormal – high on alcohol or drugs acts weird, looks suspicious or attempts to hide something.
In other instance a person can be searched if he/she is running away from the law, or is a former convict, then the warrant officer has the right to get personal information. In another instance an officer can search and arrest a person if he/she was caught red-handed committing a crime.
Moreover, civilians have right to ask for the identity of an officer and for that it is very important that the people living in the country are aware and/or well versed with the laws of the country.
Officers will not stop people at random for any reason whatsoever, especially if the officer has no search and arrest warrant as per the Law No 17 of 1960 or the penal code.
For example, Article 52 says a police officer can only demand to see the driver’s licence and vehicle documents of the motorist and if the person refuses to oblige that doesn’t mean the law permits him to search the motorist.
All that he can do is ask the person to accompany him to the police station for not complying with the officers orders. In no case the officer has the right to body search the person or the vehicle.
Here I will mention one incident of impersonation. Last week an unknown person stopped an expatriate who was carrying with him KD 700 for some reason related to a business activity.
The expatriate was driving and the ‘officer’ ordered him to stop. He identified himself as a CID officer and said he had a warrant to search his vehicle.
The man was ordered to step out of the vehicle. The officer found with the expatriate KD 700 and accused him of money laundering. He also said it is illegal to carry such a huge amount.
The officer then confiscated the money and told the expatriate to check with the police station of the area. When the ‘victim’ went to the police station, with supporting document to prove why he was carrying KD 700 with him, to his surprise he discovered he had been robbed.
Also it is illogical to believe that an officer will stop a motorist or a pedestrian if he/she is not violating a law and will never take the money. Moreover, KD 700 is a comparatively small amount to accuse anyone of money laundering.
It is essential to be careful when it comes to dealing with people who impersonate police officers. The only way to know if someone is a police officer is to know the law.
By Atyab Alshatti Esq