May 23, 2012

Recommendations

To the Government of the People’s Republic of China

  • China’s leadership should publicly and unambiguously condemn chengguan assaults on and illegal detention of suspected administrative law violators, emphasizing that such malfeasance is illegal and announcing new measures to ensure rigorous investigation and, where appropriate, prosecution of chengguan officers believed responsible for such acts.
  • The leadership should also establish an independent commission which includes representatives of the Public Security Bureau, the Chinese Communist Party’s Political Legal Committee, and academics and lawyers familiar with problems in the regulation and operations of chengguan to assess chengguan performance and suggest further reforms. The merits and demerits of replacing the chengguan system with other mechanisms of urban administrative law enforcement should be among the topics addressed.
  • The Ministry of Public Security (MPS) should consider creating an independent investigatory taskforce with the resources necessary to investigate and bring to account Public Security Bureau personnel complicit in chengguan abuses in Beijing and other cities.
  • The State Council’s Information Office should ensure that chengguan abuses are among the issues addressed in the government’s pending National Human Rights Action Plan (2012-2015).[5]

To the Public Security Bureau

  • The PSB should create a special unit dedicated to investigating criminal abuses perpetrated by chengguan officers. This special police unit should be given legal authority to conduct spot-checks on chengguan operations and have capacity to respond to reports of chengguan abuses whenever and wherever they occur. The authority of the police to intervene to halt chengguan abuses, however, should be general and not limited to a special unit.
  • The PSB should create 24-hour telephone and internet hotlines for victims of chengguan abuses to report misconduct to the new police unit.
  • The PSB should ensure that all victims of chengguan abuses receive appropriate medical and legal assistance and compensation for their losses.
  • The PSB should also initiate a mass public education campaign on the legal rights of street vendors, including their right not to be physically abused or illegally detained by chengguan officers, even when they lack vending permits. Campaign targets should include police, chengguan, and all public security forces, reminding them of their obligations to protect the rights of all persons, including street vendors, and the potentially severe legal penalties that abuse of those rights entails.

To Provincial, Autonomous Region, and Municipal Governments in China with Chengguan Enforcement Organs

  • Publicly and unambiguously condemn chengguan assaults on and illegal detention of suspected administrative law violators, emphasizing that such malfeasance is illegal and announcing new measures to ensure rigorous investigation and, where appropriate, prosecution of chengguan officers believed responsible for such acts.
  • Educate chengguan officers in the rights of all people, including street vendors, and the potentially severe legal penalties that abuse of those rights entails. Ensure that all chengguan training includes components on human rights and the illegality of torture, assault, illegal detention, and extortion.
  • Review personnel records of existing chengguan officers and ensure that any who have been implicated in illegal detention, assault, or other abuses are suspended from active duty while allegations against them are fully investigated. In cases where there is evidence of potentially criminal conduct, records should be shared with police to facilitate investigation and possible criminal prosecution.

To Governments and International Bodies Funding Chinese Legal Reform or Concerned with Human Rights in China, including the United States, the European Union, the United Nations, the World Bank, and the Asian Development Bank

  • Express strong concerns to Chinese officials about chengguan abuses, emphasizing that those abuses violate both Chinese and international law, that perpetrators should be punished, and that victims should be provided with reasonable compensation.
  • Raise chengguan abuses with Chinese authorities in legal reform and security sector training programs, including relevant educational initiatives.

[5] “China to map out 2nd action plan on human rights,” China Daily, (Beijing), September 28, 2011, http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/china/2011-09/28/content_13813529.htm (accessed October 23, 2011).