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Effort is launched to monitor jailers

CHINA'S chief prosecuting body yesterday began a five-month campaign to ensure proper management of the nation's detention centers, which have reported 15 "unnatural" deaths so far this year.

Seven of the 15 detainees were beaten to death, three committed suicide, and two died in accidents, authorities said. The other three cases were still under investigation.

The campaign, launched jointly by the Supreme People's Procuratorate and the Ministry of Public Security, focuses on cracking down on "inmate bullying" and investigating all "unnatural" deaths since 2006 and how officials handled them in the 12 provinces where they were reported, SPP Deputy Prosecutor Sun Qian told a video conference on Friday.

"Improper management on the part of police departments and slack supervision of prosecuting organizations are the causes of the unnatural deaths in prisons," an SPP spokesperson said at the meeting.

The government urged prosecuting authories to send supervisors to detention centers to monitor police work. The SPP and the ministry will cooperate in setting up an information network linking supervision offices with detention centers to watch over prisoners.

A spate of unnatural deaths in detention centers shocked the Chinese public in recent months, sparking concern over the management of the facilities by police departments.

The February death of Li Qiaoming, 24, at the Jinning County detention house in south China's Yunnan Province was the first such case brought to public attention. An investigation determined that other inmates had beaten Li to death.

On March 8, 19-year-old Xu Gengrong died in a detention center in northwest China's Shaanxi Province on the seventh day after he came in.

On March 27, 50-year-old Li Wenyan reportedly died in the middle of a "nightmare," according to the head of a detention department in Jiujiang in Jiangxi Province in the east.

In early April, the Ministry of Public Security started a three-month campaign to educate police officers at prisons and detention centers on professional ethics, legal awareness and respect for human rights.

"Officials should have the courage to reveal problems in the management of prisons and detention centers and should redouble efforts to address them," the ministry said.


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