Clar­i­fy­ing le­gal sta­tus of po­lice as­sis­tants strength­ens rule of law

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - COMMENT - TEM­PO­RARY EM­PLOY­EES

are of­ten hired by the po­lice to help with law en­force­ment. Th­ese as­sis­tants have aroused con­tro­versy be­cause their le­gal stand­ing in en­forc­ing the law was not clear un­til now. The State Coun­cil, China’s Cabi­net, re­cently is­sued a de­tailed guid­ing doc­u­ment mak­ing clear their power and re­spon­si­bil­i­ties. Bei­jing News com­ments:

There are many prob­lems with tem­po­rary po­lice as­sis­tants, be­cause of their un­de­fined le­gal sta­tus, in­clud­ing them be­com­ing scape­goats in some dis­putes and be­ing pun­ished for the wrong­do­ings of po­lice of­fi­cers.

For ex­am­ple, when the po­lice want to use force but are not sure about whether they should, they will ask the po­lice as­sis­tants to do it. In case an in­no­cent res­i­dent is harmed and it cre­ates a scan­dal, the lead­ing lo­cal po­lice of­fi­cial will sim­ply em­ploy po­lice as­sis­tants so the po­lice of­fi­cers can eas­ily es­cape any re­spon­si­bil­ity.

Such an ap­proach has al­ready dam­aged the rep­u­ta­tion of the po­lice in cer­tain cities. The new guid­ing doc-

ument of the State Coun­cil makes clear that any po­lice of­fi­cial who in­structs po­lice as­sis­tants should be held ac­count­able for their ac­tions.

It also clearly states that po­lice as­sis­tants should be prop­erly reg­u­lated and be pe­nal­ized for any wrong­do­ing. That will help curb the ex­ces­sive zeal of some po­lice as­sis­tants in en­forc­ing the law.

Of course, while strength­en­ing the dis­ci­plinary reg­u­la­tion over po­lice as­sis­tants, the new guide­line also pro­tects the le­gal rights of po­lice as­sis­tants, and says that they should be paid out of a lo­cal gov­ern­ment’s bud­get, and their fam­i­lies given com­pen­sa­tion if they are killed or wounded on the job.

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