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China unveils new legislation on police powers of detention

• http://www.guardian.co.uk, Tania Branigan
 

China has unveiled legislation enshrining police powers to hold people at unknown locations, but has removed a controversial secrecy clause after an outcry.

Experts had warned that the original draft would have legalised disappearances by allowing police to hold some suspects for up to six months without informing their families.

The revisions to the criminal procedure law were unveiled at the National People's Congress on Thursday, and will be passed by what is essentially a rubber stamp parliament. Lawyers have welcomed other elements offering additional protection to suspects. Reformers have long battled for such measures – which include improving legal access, increasing protection for juveniles and outlawing evidence gathered through torture – although many are sceptical about how they will be observed.

"The real issue is not what the laws say, but how they are enforced," Pu Zhiqiang, a Beijing lawyer who has taken on sensitive cases such as those involving dissidents, said.

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