2017-08-08 11:51:44

Police in southwestern China escorted dozens of suspected criminals through city streets — stopping at some of their own crime scenes — to publicly shame the men, reported a local news outlet Friday.

Some 100 men wearing yellow vests and black hoods were paraded through the streets of Bijie City in Guizhou province, according to photos circulating online. Around 400 police officers armed with guns — some riding in armored vehicles — accompanied the suspects. A law enforcement officer who declined to be named confirmed to Sixth Tone the event took place, without elaborating on the details.

The actions were the result of a crackdown by district police and were aimed at deterring criminals and demonstrating law enforcement’s strength and determination to fight against crime, the report said.

The suspects — who have been accused of robbery, theft, and mafia activities — were driven from a detention center on Aug. 4 before being led to 10 locations on foot, as passersby publicly ridiculed them for their alleged crimes. The “parade” was a part of the provincial police’s annual “summer crackdown” campaign that started in June, managed by the Qixingguan District police.

The central government banned judicial handling of criminal suspects in public in 1992. A draft law for detention centers published in June — which would replace the current regulation implemented in 1990 — also emphasizes that detainees should be seen as suspects instead of criminals and should have their rights respected.

However, this hasn’t put an end to public shaming practices. In 2012, 51 suspects in handcuffs were paraded in public in Xiangcheng, central China’s Henan province. Last June, a number of suspects were escorted in handcuffs and shackles through the busy streets of Zoucheng in eastern China’s Shandong province, as passersby watched. While some bystanders said they enjoyed seeing the alleged criminals brought to justice, others questioned whether the practice violated the suspects’ rights.

In Bijie, too, 20 suspects arrested for robbery, theft, fraud, and intentionally causing injury were escorted through the streets by municipal police last February. The suspects were not hooded, though their faces were blurred out in photos published by media outlets.

Though law enforcement officials often put on such displays to demonstrate their “strength,” public shaming of criminal suspects has also backfired in the past. In November 2016, authorities in Xingping, a city in northwestern China’s Shaanxi province, admitted wrongdoing after police gathered 29 suspects in a public square, with signs showing their names and criminal charges hanging from their necks. Authorities said the actions had “not been in accordance with the spirit advocated by our superiors.”

Editor: Bibek Bhandari. 

(Header image: The 100 suspects are paraded through the streets of Bijie, Guizhou province, Aug. 4, 2017. From Weibo user ‘Bijiedamingge’)