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China to enforce new rules on police interrogation
Updated: 2004-08-04 15:40

China will from October 1 enforce new interrogation rules in order to better protect the rights of citizens and check abuse cases by police.

The new regulation standardised interrogation procedures, according to a Xinhua report, citing an official with the legislative affairs department under the Ministry of Public Security.

The current law passed in February 1995 only gave a general definition of "interrogation" with no penalties for police who break it, the official said.

Under the law, suspects can only be detained for 24 hours, or 48 hours in certain circumstances after approval by police station heads.

The unnamed official however said some police usually question suspects beyond the time limit and that suspects were detained in makeshift rooms. "Negligence in management and disregard of basic human rights have even left suspects to commit suicide in these rooms."

The new regulation would specify the target of interrogation, standardize procedures and set guidelines for the management of detention rooms, he said, according to Xinhua.

Under the new rules, pregnant and breast-feeding women, juveniles under 16 and people over the age of 70 could not be interrogated for more than four hours and should not be shut in detention rooms.

Police who broke the regulations would be punished. Those who beat suspects to death, cause death of prisoners for any other abnormal reason or whose neglect leads to prisoner suicide would be fired and prosecuted.

Police authorities would also face severe punishment, the official said.

Chinese authorities have pledged to clean up the law enforcement sector.

In June a police officer was given a suspended death sentence and four others received jail terms for beating a detainee to death and burying his body in secret to avoid discovery, state media said.

Last year 387 policemen were fired for misconduct and almost 1,000 prosecuted. China also dismissed 33,761 unqualified policemen in the August to November period last year as part of a clean up drive, state media reported.

The Ministry of Public Security would also enact regulations on informing family members of detained suspects and preventing extended detention, the official said.

Official statistics show China has 1.7 million policemen, a far lower proportion to size of population than developed countries.

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