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Op-Ed: It is Time to Check Police Powers

(People's Daily Online)    05:29, May 23, 2016

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The recent incidents occurred across China involving police officers using violence signify one crucial issue: China needs to confront the problem of police officers’ abuse of powers so to check them from arbitrarily expanding their authorities on law enforcement.

The powers that police force possesses in China is too broad and obscure, which is not helping with the goal of building a rule of law society.

Policemen’s powers should be restricted and clearly specified by law and regulations. They have the rights to take an individual away from a scene or detain him/her only if that individual has been proven to cast serious harm to social order or become a public safety threat. For people who have conducted minor violations or wrongdoings, police are not allowed to take coercive measures to restrict their personal freedom. Rather, police should first identify themselves with their badge before interrogating or investigating. Any coercive measures are forbidden unless there is solid evidence proving the relevant individual is involved in a crime. As for police physically assaulting suspects, it shall not happen under any circumstances whatsoever.

To put policemen’s powers under leash, it is necessary to strengthen supervision and accountability mechanisms. The logic behind all these brutal violence from police is not because the officers were ignorant of the law, rather, they just knew far too well that they could walk free no matter what they did. Strengthen the supervision on law enforcement is definitely necessary, and it must be through the clarification of the law and regulations on what conduct is to be punished, banned, restrictive, and forbidden.

The judicial system in China has yet to establish specialized counterparts for overseeing the law enforcement. As for now, the void is not helping with the effectuating of supervision. To win public's trust, the relevant police branches involved in the incidents should be excluded from the investigation and supervision body. Any institution involved in the case shall be banned from publishing so-called "the truth". It'll also be better to hand the case to non-local judicial authorities to investigate when necessary.

(Translated from <澎湃社论:管住警权> : http://www.thepaper.cn/newsDetail_forward_1472501)

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(Editor:任建民,Wu Chengliang)

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