Govt department officials extort money from locals in Thantlang
06 February 2014: Unnamed officials in two government departments in Thantlang, Chin State have been accused of extorting money from locals for issuing official documents.
The government employees from the Department of Immigration and Population, and Settlement and Land Records Department demand extra fees for the National Registration Card (NRC), Family Registration Form, and forms related to land-ownership.
A Thantlang resident, who wants to remain anonymous, told the Chin Human Rights Organization (CHRO) that they had to pay 5,000 Kyats for an NRC card although the official fixed fee is 6 Kyats, and 2,000 Kyats for an officially free Family Registration Form-10.
“Up to 10,000 Kyats can be charged for replacement or renewal of an old NRC card, and a completely new card will cost between 30,000 and 40,000 Kyats,” added the Chin local.
When asked about the situation, a female employee from the Department of Immigration and Population, said that they didn’t charge extra fees besides the official rates, adding: “Only those who can afford give us some money, say 2,000 Kyats, 5,000Kyats, etc., as a gift. It is not what we ask from them.”
“Those who do not have don’t give. However, we charge 2,000 Kyats per head to cover our travel costs when we go around villages,” she added, , without making it crystal clear either that those who didn’t have and, therefore, didn’t give, actually received the forms they wanted, or that nobody actually had to borrow money in order to “show enough gratitude” to get the forms at the time they needed them.
Meanwhile, a village leader from Thantlang Township said that locals didn’t understand why different amounts of fees were asked to pay for Form-103 for a certified map of land, and Form-105 for a legal document of land ownership, both issued by the Settlement and Land Records Department.
In response to questions asked about these matters, the Department Head said that they had never demanded money from people regarding the forms, adding: “Sometimes, people separately give us tips for tea in gratitude.”
He did not make it clear, however, that “gratitude” was never shown in advance of receiving the documentation, or that locals were ever given reason to suppose that it was possible for them to receive the documentation in reasonable time even if they did not show this “gratitude”#