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More transparency demanded of police by new regulations

By Bai Tiantian (Global Times)

08:21, November 01, 2012

China's Ministry of Public Security Tuesday issued a statement requiring local police bureaus around the country to be more transparent and clarifies their obligation to disclose information.

The rule, effective January 2013, requires local police bureaus to make information about crimes and arrests public. It also stipulates that information on traffic, fire and flood hazards, and the location of surveillance cameras be disclosed to the public.

Police will also be required to tell victims of crime about the progress of their investigation within five days of receiving a request for information.

Sun Maoli, director of the ministry's legislative affairs bureau, said Tuesday on the ministry's website that the new rules are by far "the most comprehensive and most systematic" push toward greater transparency.

"We are allowing more people to access our information," Sun said, adding that officers are also encouraged to adopt new technologies in their work and disclose information on official websites and Weibo."

Ma Qixun, director of Beijing Xindu Law Firm, told the Global Times that the rules are a big breakthrough.

"The entire police procedures have been, to this day, a black box. They could arrest someone for days without informing the family, leaving them to believe the person has gone missing," Ma said, "What's worse, there is no regulation to support a person's right to know. Previous regulations are mostly fragmented and legally vague."

The new rules support China's newly-amended Criminal Procedure Law, which also comes into effective in January 2013. It requires the police to contact the family of someone they arrest within 24 hours.

The location of surveillance cameras that record traffic violators will also be required to be disclosed.

"People call it 'fishing enforcement' as police plant some cameras without disclosing their locations and wait to catch offenders," said Zhu Xuehui, a lawyer from Shandong Gaoxing Law Firm.

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