China's "shame parade" ban reflects better protection of rights, dignity: expert

09:00, July 30, 2010      

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China's recent ban on "prostitute parades" may showcase the country's growing respect for human rights and dignity during law enforcement, especially for criminal suspects, a political advisor said in Beijing Thursday.

The "shame parades" had not only been humiliating, but also were in violation of Chinese laws and regulations, said Cao Yisun, a professor with the China University of Political Science and Law, and a member of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC).

Earlier this week, China's Ministry of Public Security published a notice demanding police authorities end the public shaming of prostitution suspects by parading them through the streets and other humiliating practices.

The notice followed a number of incidents in which police had employed questionably harsh methods during the campaign to crackdown on prostitution, launched by the ministry on June 22.

In one case, in Dongguan of southern Guangdong Province, the police released photos of two suspected prostitutes, walking in their bare feet, handcuffed and with a rope tied around their waist.

And in Hubei Province's Wuhan, the police posted a public notice on prostitutes giving their names, their age, the names of their clients and other personal information.

Shocking as it may sound, the public shaming of criminal suspects, especially those involved in prostitution, which is illegal and considered a taboo in China, has been a commonly-seen practice over the years.

Four years ago, some 100 prostitutes and their customers were forced to parade in the streets of Guangdong's boomtown Shenzhen, even as the police read out their personal information on loudspeakers. The case sparked protests among the public who were angry over harsh police methods.

"In a modern society ruled by law, the recurrence of such abuses of human dignity and rights should be ended resolutely," Cao Yisun said. "The offenders of law also have their lawful rights, and they should be respected."

He said the Public Security Ministry's new notice has focused China's increasing concern over the protection of human rights in the country.

Zhou Xiaozheng, director of the legal and social research institute under the Beijing-based Renmin University, also said such public shaming practices were in violation of Chinese laws and regulations.

In 1988, the Supreme People's Court, the Supreme People's Procuratorate and the Ministry of Public Security, issued a notice warning that parading criminals and suspects was illegal and must be stopped.

In 1992, the three organizations reiterated, in another notice, that public parading of criminals who had received a death sentence, or other criminals and suspects in any form, should not be allowed.

In 2004, a provision that expressly states that "the State respects and guarantees human rights" was included in China's Constitution.

Pointing out that the Chinese leaders' repeated promise of greater dignity for the people, Zhou said the promise should be fulfilled in the course of law enforcement in the country.

"The police authorities should use their power with great caution, so as to protect the dignity of Chinese citizens and safeguard social justice," he said.



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