Law reopens debate on detention houses
Procedure Law, the powers of judicial departments — investigation, custody, prosecution and enforcement — must be used independently, he said, “so transferring management of detention houses is in line with the law”.
Although public security bureaus say they require two separate divisions to investigate and detain suspects, “I don’t think the supervision can be carried out by just one authority”, he added.
The police have traditionally focused on securing confessions because they can quickly end a case, “but rapid developments in technology have changed the situation”, according to Bi Xiqian, a professor at the People’s Public Security University of China.
Most evidence can today be obtained using video cameras and other surveillance devices, so police often no longer need a confession, she said.
Bi said a survey about 10 years ago showed 90 percent of public security officers were unwilling to transfer custody management to justice departments, yet in a more recent poll it had dropped to about half. She credits this to an increased awareness of human rights protection as well as progress in the rule of law.
Some experts warn that such a transfer would still face difficulties.
“If justice administrations take over, they should also make specific rules on regulating management,” said Mao Lixin, another Beijing attorney, adding that the Ministry of Justice has not shown a clear attitude to custody management since the draft law was released.