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‘Catch it all on video’: China’s police urged to record law enforcement process

Chinese police should videotape the entire process of their law enforcement, according to the latest directive issued by the Ministry of Public Security.

Training of front-line policemen should also be stepped up as regards evidence collection and the usage of equipment, it said.

The directive, which was issued recently, was approved four months earlier at a meeting of the Central Leading Group for Comprehensively Deepening Reforms, which called for further standardising law enforcement by police.

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Early this month, the ministry, the supreme court and the top prosecutors jointly issued a separate directive, setting out how police officers could solicit posts from personal blogs and social media and obtain email records and other electronic information for evidence in criminal cases.

The most recent directive calls for anyone involved in obtaining wrongful convictions to be held liable with no statute of limitations, Xinhua reported. Standards for the exclusion of evidence obtained illegally should be further clarified, the directive added.

Information on individual cases should be made available on the websites of police departments, except for cases that involve state security, it said, without further elaboration.

Police in China have long been criticised for their forceful extractions of confessions and use of violence, and people have repeatedly called for greater transparency.

Beijing-based environmental scientist Lei Yang, 29, died in police custody in May just 50 minutes after he was ­approached by plainclothes ­officers for an identification check in his neighbourhood, causing national outrage.

Initially police said Lei died of a heart attack, but an autopsy report this month said he suffocated on gastric fluid.

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The directive is the latest effort by the Ministry of Public Security to try to tackle such problems, under the party’s slogan since 2014 to “rule the country by law”.

The ministry announced in July that Chinese residents could now record the actions of police officers as long as the action of recording did not stop the police from doing their jobs, as it rolled out new protocols for law enforcement officers handling criminal, public order and traffic incidents.

Under the new protocol, all ­officers must carry their police ID on them at all times.

Even plainclothes officers must present their identification upon approaching civilians.

“Policemen should accept public monitoring and get used to implementing the law in front of cameras if members of the public record their actions without hindering law enforcement,” a CCTV news programme reported, citing the new protocol.

Chinese free to film police – as long as they don’t get in the way

Uniformed police must present their identification if asked to do so.

Police are also urged to release people politely when they are cleared of suspicion, but retain the right to restrain those who refuse to cooperate.