Some protection for Chinese prisoners

The Chinese government has announced plans to hold police responsible for the welfare of people who are being interrogated, or living under house arrest, the AsiaNews service reports. The new policy offers some protection for the many people-- including religious leaders-- who have been victims of police brutality in the past.

The new policy, which takes effect on October 1, is designed to prevent the beatings that have frequently been administered by police officers questioning political and religious dissenters. Chinese Christians, as well as members of religious groups like the Falun Gong sect, have frequently complained about police brutality, which in some cases has caused the death of prisoners.

Among Chinese Catholics, the most famous case of such abuse was the death of Bishop Joseph Fan Xueyan of Baoding in 1992. After months of imprisonment-- during which the faithful had no news of his whereabouts or condition-- Bishop Fan's body was dropped at his family's home, bearing evidence that he had been tortured. No government official ever acknowledged accountability for his death.