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China reigning in feared Shuanggui detentions

The Communist Party is considering scaling back its problematic shuanggui system, a move which will improve its standing among human rights groups. Anti-corruption experts met with the country’s top prosecutors immediately after the Third Plenum meetings earlier this month to discuss reforms to the contentious system.

The talks were triggered by party leader Xi Jinping’s statement that corruption should be fought using the rule of law.

Shuanggui is a form of extra-legal detention for Communist Party officials believed to be corrupt. It has long drawn the ire of human rights activists for its lack of transparency and abuse of power by investigators. Deaths and suicides during the shuanggui process are common.

Earlier this year, Yu Qiyi (pictured) died while being interrogated by six investigators for alleged bribery. In a landmark court case, the six officials were jailed for terms of between four and 14 years for causing his death. During their trial, it was revealed that Yu’s head had been submerged under water several times, leading to his death.  

Under the current shuanggui system, detainees are questioned by the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection (CCDI) and are not allowed any outside communication throughout the detention period. They are only handed over to prosecutors and law enforcement officials when the CCDI has completed its investigation.

According to Jiang Mingan, a Peking University law professor present at the Third Plenum meetings, prosecutors will now have a stronger role in investigating corruption by party members. He also noted that the duration of shuanggui would be shortened. Currently, there are no limits as to how long an individual can be detained.


A version of this post first appeared in the China Compliance Digest.

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