China's paramilitary faces public resentment
Washington: China's "chengguan," the para-police agency tasked with enforcing non-criminal urban administrative regulations, is in some ways a threat to public safety, a rights group said on Wednesday.
This is due to the agency's lack of effective official supervision, training and discipline, Human Rights Watch said in a new report.
The 76-page report, "Beat Him, Take Everything Away," documents abuses by the chengguan Urban Management Law Enforcement forces.
These include assaults on suspected administrative law violators, some of which lead to serious injury or death, illegal detention, and unlawful forceful confiscation of property.
"The chengguan's abusive conduct turns the idea of rule of law on its head," said Sophie Richardson, China director at Human Rights Watch.
"Instead of carrying out clearly defined and limited activities to enforce the law, some chengguan are abusing their authority."
Established in 1997, there are now thousands of chengguan para-police in at least 656 cities across China.
In principle, their role is to enforce non-criminal administrative regulations, including rules governing environmental, sanitation, traffic, and urban beautification.
They do not have the legal authority to detain or use excessive force against suspected violators of non-criminal administrative regulations.