source: Human Rights Watch
published: 27 May 2016
The death of 29-year-old Lei Yang on May 7 while in police custody sparked a firestorm of criticism against the police across China.
Under pressure to respond, Minister of Public Security Guo Shengkun, China’s highest-ranking police official, vowed to crack down on police abuse and educate the force to “consciously respect the law.” Beijing police promised an impartial investigation.
But unless those authorities are willing to do more than state the obvious, it’s unlikely that the ministry will restrain its officers. Recent Human Rights Watch research shows that ill-treatment and torture by police are persistent problems, partly because the police hold enormous power in China’s criminal justice system and are rarely held accountable.
As one former police officer told Human Rights Watch, the problem isn’t a lack of understanding about what police can and cannot do with detainees: “We all knew that torture…was wrong, but the laws aren’t being enforced.”