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Legislation Urged on Police Investigations
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A senior prosecutor has proposed tougher legislation against the use of surveillance and "special investigation techniques" to better protect human rights.

Zhu Xiaoqing, deputy procurator-general of the Supreme People's Procuratorate, raised the proposals this week during a seminar sponsored by the Ministry of Public Security and the Chinese People's Public Security University.

With the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress, the top legislature, set to finalize the 7th amendment into Criminal Procedure Law this October, the seminar met to discuss ways to improve the investigation process.

"The law needs to clarify the conditions, scope, procedures and judicial consequences of the application of such detection methods," Zhu said.

Surveillance and investigation methods include phone-bugging, secret photography, videotaping, tracking, and mail and personal data inspection.

"We also have to strengthen our witness protection program so they can present their testimony without fear," Zhu said.

Chen Weidong, a professor at the Law Institute of the Renmin University of China, said that although the current Security Law and Procuratorators Law hold provisions covering the application of technical and special investigation, they are not adequate in protecting basic human rights.

Chen proposed that "secret investigations" should only be used under specific circumstances, such as safeguarding national security or in anti-terror and drug-related cases.

"A strict judicial review system is needed to keep such investigations in check," Chen said.

"Only after receiving authorization from a higher authority should investigators use such methods."

Zhu also proposed improving interrogation procedures to prevent forced confessions.

"Evidence collected illegally from forced confessions, torture, inducing and cheating must be stamped out," Zhu said.

"An effective mechanism against extracting confession by torture should be established."

Zhu proposed that suspect interrogation be fully videotaped in such cases as homicide, graft, and other serious crimes.

Zhu also said procuratorate departments should improve internal supervision, making them more open and accountable.

Zhang Jun, vice-president of the Supreme People's Court, said that a suspect's lawyer should be allowed to be present during questioning.

"Having lawyers present during questioning is key to eliminating confessions by torture, so that the rights of suspects are protected," he stated.

Although it is against the law, some cases of torture during interrogation have been widely reported by the media.

(China Daily August 24, 2007)

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