The Chinese Ministry of Public Security [official website, in Chinese] issued an order Monday directing the country's police forces to abandon the practice of publicly shaming suspects and prisoners. The order [Xinhua report, in Chinese] stems from public response to an incident [Xinhua report, in Chinese] earlier this month when officers in the southern city of Dongguan paraded roped and handcuffed suspected prostitutes down a city street in the middle of the day, posting pictures of the event on the internet. Many Internet posters, increasingly leery of corruption in Chinese law enforcement [JURIST news archive], expressed outrage at the police use of public shaming. Though public shaming has been a long-held Chinese law enforcement practice, instances of it have been on the rise in recent months after the country initiated an anti-vice crackdown earlier this year. Police officials have said that the posting of the inflammatory images on the internet was accidental [Xinhua report, in Chinese].
Chinese law enforcement practices have fallen under fire in recent months as police have been accused of brutality and corruption. Earlier this month, Amnesty International (AI) [advocacy website] urged [JURIST report] the Chinese government to launch an independent investigation into law enforcement conduct during the July 2009 Xinjiang riots [JURIST news archive], accusing police of executing arbitrary arrests and employing excessive force. Last October, Human Rights Watch (HRW) [advocacy website] reported [JURIST report] that more than 40 Uighur Muslims [JURIST news archive] had disappeared while in the custody of Chinese authorities after large-scale police sweeps. Residents of the region claim that the majority of the deaths were at the hands of Chinese authorities, but Chinese state media has reported that most of the deaths were due to protesters. The Chinese government has admitted that police were responsible for 12 of the deaths [JURIST report].