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People's Daily Online>>China Society

New rules to cut abuse at detention centers

By Li Xinran (Shanghai Daily)

08:33, March 02, 2012

China announced yesterday it is to prohibit detention centers from forcing inmates to do labor and male guards supervising female detainees' daily life in revised regulations aiming to root out abuses.

The new rules, approved by the State Council's legal affairs office, will take effect from April 1, the central government's website said.

Many of the inmates in Chinese detention centers are just pretrial suspects or misdemeanor offenders.

The move follows media reports that they risk being used as unpaid laborers by guards or falling victim to violence while inside.

The revised rules clarify inmates' rights and benefits in nine aspects, covering living conditions, health care and even leave for important family events.

Female inmates have their rights further protected under a rule which stipulates that only women staff will be allowed to do body searches and supervise their daily lives.

Detention center eateries should also heed the food taboos of inmates from ethnic nationalities, according to the new rules.

Detainees' reports, complaints and accusations shall be submitted to relevant authorities and dealt with in a timely manner, the rules state.

They also say there should be no censorship of inmates' mail and that their rights to have visitors be guaranteed.

Detention centers will be required to inform inmates verbally or in writing of their rights and obligations when they are placed in custody. Previously, they were only encouraged to do so.

China established its first detention center in 1957.

Scandals involving the death of inmates made frequent headlines in 2009 and 2010, especially after Li Qiaoming, 24, was beaten to death by three fellow inmates on February 8, 2009. The center where Li was held at first claimed he died while playing a game of "hide-and-seek."

Just days ago, an inmate died after "he completed 51 push-ups" at a detention center laundry in Taizhou in south China's Guangdong Province, according to an official explanation.

The Ministry of Public Security and the Supreme People's Procuratorate began a five-month campaign in April 2009 to ensure proper management of detention centers after the beating death of Li.


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