Chinese Authorities Decided Not To Prosecute Police Officers Found To Have Caused a Beijing Resident’s Death

May 16, 2017

Lei Yang, an environmental scientist and Beijing resident, died in police custody in May 2016. His death sparked a national uproar over police brutality and abuse of power and highlighted widespread distrust of law enforcement, particularly from China’s emerging class of young professionals. Shortly after Lei’s death, President Xi Jinping convened a “leading small group” meeting which announced plans for stricter police supervision and the need to solve existing law enforcement problems, a reference which state media linked to Lei Yang’s death. Nevertheless, in December 2016, the Beijing procuratorate declined to press criminal charges despite finding that the police officers involved used excessive force and caused Lei’s death. To stem public interest in the case, authorities censored online advocacy efforts and harassed individuals pressing publicly for greater police accountability. This case raises ongoing concerns regarding mistreatment and torture of detainees in custody, law enforcement impunity, and online censorship, particularly in cases considered politically sensitive.  It also highlights growing middle class concern about the lack of basic rights protections in China.

Case Summary

A 29-year-old Beijing resident, Lei Yang held a master’s degree in environmental science from Remin University and worked for an environmental organization with ties to the Chinese government.[1] In May 2016, shortly after plainclothes officers took him into custody in Beijing, Lei died.[2] His family viewed the body several hours after his death and reported that they observed serious physical injuries.[3]

At the request of Lei’s family, procuratorate officials in Beijing ordered an autopsy[4] and subsequently announced, without releasing the full autopsy report, that Lei had asphyxiated after the contents of his stomach entered his respiratory tract.[5] They opened an investigation on five police officers[6] and on June 30 approved the arrest of two of them on the charge of “dereliction of duty.”[7]

In December 2016, procuratorate officials announced that despite findings indicating that the officers had caused Lei Yang’s death,[8] they would not indict them, claiming that their conduct, while constituting “dereliction of duty,” was minor, and that Lei’s resistance and attempts to escape on a full stomach were contributing factors to his death.[9] According to a procuratorate official, the police officers twice restrained Lei by kneeling and stomping on his neck, wrapping an arm around his neck, and pressing on the back of his neck.[10] The police officers connected to the case faced only internal discipline.[11]

Lei Yang’s Death Sparked Widespread Public Uproar

Lei Yang’s death caused widespread and sustained concerns, particularly among China’s middle-class professionals. The case sparked, according to one Chinese academic, “unprecedented and new forms of organization and protest, with China’s social elites taking the central role.”[12] One of several open letters, drafted by a fellow alumni of Renmin University, described Lei’s death as a “structural tragedy” involving “the random, willful killing of an ordinary, urban, middle-class person.”[13] A China-based political commentator said the series of open letters represented the first time that the middle class collectively expressed worry about not having basic protection for their rights.[14]

The procuratorate’s decision not to prosecute the officers prompted additional public outcry including the circulation of at least two open letters, which gathered over 3,000 signatures, asserting that the decision violated Chinese law.[15]  To some commentators, the decision to back the officers, made at the expense of the public’s trust in the legal system, was politically necessary to avoid upsetting the police force that is instrumental to “maintaining social stability.”[16]

Authorities Respond to Public Outcry Surrounding Lei Yang’s Case, Failure to Prosecute

Shortly after Lei’s death in May 2016, President Xi Jinping convened a “leading small group” (lingdao xiaozu) meeting, which emphasized the importance of strictly supervising law enforcement and resolving prominent problems.[17] A commentator said that official news outlets’ wide coverage of Lei Yang’s case, which included commentary that questioned law enforcement standards,[18] suggested that Xi intended to rectify the law enforcement system through Lei’s case in order to restore public trust.[19]   

A U.S.-based news site, however, reported that officials within the Public Security Bureau were concerned that the case would set a precedent and resisted efforts to hold the police officers criminally liable, preferring instead to seek a settlement with Lei’s family and controlling public discussion about the case.[20]

In response to widespread public interest about the case, censorship of online discussions and reporting mounted as authorities ordered media outlets, websites, and blogging platforms to delete negative commentary and to publish reports only from authorized sources.[21] Two censorship-tracking websites reported that censorship on a popular microblogging platform in China rose to a three-month high in the two days after the procuratorate announced its decision not to prosecute the police officers.[22]

Individuals engaged in organizing social media petitions and public advocacy letters were harassed and detained as well. Xie Xiaoling, daughter of the former president of Renmin University, was surveilled and later confined to her home after she filed an application asking for disclosure of information related to the case.[23] At around the same time domestic security officials reportedly asked individuals interested in the case to stay home on the day of Lei’s funeral.[24]

Shortly after the procuratorate decided to drop charges against the police officers, Lei’s family reportedly reached a settlement with the government in exchange for their promise to abandon further litigation efforts, to refrain from publicly speaking about the case, and to sever ties with their lawyer.[25] While the settlement amount is unknown, the family’s lawyer claimed that it was unprecedented.[26] A source close to the family related that officials had gone to the family’s home in Hunan province to exert pressure on the family.[27]

The Ongoing Problem of Police Impunity and Torture in Detention

For China’s growing class of urban and educated professionals, Lei Yang’s death in police custody highlighted the systemic problems of police impunity, torture of detainees in custody, abuse of police power,[28] and censorship.[29]

The failure to hold police accountable, despite the procuratorate’s finding that they used excessive force, raises concern regarding the recently published amendment draft of the PRC People’s Police Law,[30] which, according to some observers, does not provide for meaningful limits on expansive police powers.[31]

Furthermore, the procuratorate’s refusal to prosecute may be a violation of China’s domestic law and the United Nation Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (Convention against Torture). China’s domestic law requires criminal prosecution if a government official causes the death of one or more persons as a result of dereliction of duty.[32] Articles 4, 7 and 16 of the Convention against Torture requires a state party to prosecute the perpetrator of torture or other forms of mistreatment.[33] Torture and ill-treatment of detainees remain deeply entrenched in China’s law-enforcement and criminal justice systems according to the February 2016 conclusions of the Committee against Torture review of China.[34]

Lei Yang’s case is noteworthy not simply because of his grave mistreatment, which remains a systemic issue, but also because of the public outcry it prompted and the high-level attention that followed.

_______________________
[1] Didi Kirsten Tatlow, “Chinese Man’s Death in Custody Prompts Suspicion of Police Brutality,” New York Times, 12 May 16 (https://www.nytimes.com/2016/05/13/world/asia/china-lei-yang-police-death.html).
 
[2] Didi Kirsten Tatlow, “Chinese Man’s Death in Custody Prompts Suspicion of Police Brutality,” New York Times, 12 May 16 (https://www.nytimes.com/2016/05/13/world/asia/china-lei-yang-police-death.html).
 
[3] Wu Wencui, “Wu Wencui (Lei Yang’s Wife): Criminal Complaint Requesting Beijing Procuratorate To Open Case and Investigate Victimization of Lei Yang” [Wu wencui (lei yang qizi): guanyu yaoqiu beijingshi jianchayuan li’an zhencha lei yang beihai an de xingshi bao’an shu], reprinted in Rights Defense Network, 17 May 16 (https://wqw2010.blogspot.com/2016/05/blog-post_25.html).
 
[4] Wang Wei and Lin Feiran, “Police: Lei Yang Grabbed Steering Wheel, Abnormal Physical Conditions After Being Transferred to Another Vehicle” [Jingfang: lei yang qiang fangxiangpan huanche hou shenti yichang], Beijing News, 12 May 16 (https://epaper.bjnews.com.cn/html/2016-05/12/content_634752.htm); Shan Yuxiao, “Lei Yang’s Family Filed a Complaint With Beijing Procuratorate, Asking It To Investigate Police Involved” [Lei yang jiashu xiang beijing shi jian bao’an yaoqiu zhencha sheshi jingcha], Caixin, 17 May 16 (https://china.caixin.com/2016-05-17/100944286.html). The autopsy was performed on May 13, 2016, and was completed on the following day. See also “Beijing Procuratorate To Send Forensic Medical Examiner To Join Investigation in the Lei Yang Case” [Beijing jian fang jiang pai fayi canyu diaocha lei yang an], Caixin, 11 May 16 (https://china.caixin.com/2016-05-11/100942115.html).
 
[5] “Beijing Procuratorate Announced Lei Yang’s Autopsy Report” [Beijing jianfang gongbu lei yang shijian jianding yijian], Xinhua, 30 June 16 (https://news.xinhuanet.com/legal/2016-06/30/c_129104384.htm); “Autopsy Report as Released by Beijing Procuratorate Does Not Resolve Doubt” [Beijing jiancha yuan gongbu lei yang yanshi baogao wei neng shi yi], Radio Free Asia, 1 July 16 (https://www.rfa.org/mandarin/yataibaodao/renquanfazhi/ql1-07012016104025.html).
 
[6] Shan Yuxiao, “Investigation on Five Individuals Including Officer Xing Moumou Involved in Lei Yang Case” [She lei yang an jingcha xing moumou deng wu ren bei li’an zhencha], Caixin, 1 June 16 (https://china.caixin.com/2016-06-01/100950007.html). Chen Hongwei, “First-time Revealing of Legal Counsel Retained by Five Police and Auxiliary Police Officers Involved in Lei Yang’s Case” [Lei yang an she’an 5 ming jingcha, fujing pinqing lushi shouci pilu], Legal Daily, 25 June 16 (https://www.legaldaily.com.cn/index/content/2016-06/25/content_6688055.htm). This article indicates that the individuals being investigated were two police officers and three auxiliary police officers. Beijing Municipal People’s Procuratorate, “Beijing Procuratorate Lawfully Conducted Examination and Investigation on Five Police Officers Including Xing Moumou and Found Elements of Dereliction of Duty Offense Established” [Beijing jian fang yifa shencha rending xing moumou deng wu ming she’an jingwu renyuan fuhe wanhu zhishou zui goucheng tiaojian], 23 December 16 (https://www.bjjc.gov.cn/bjoweb/tpxw/91070.jhtml). In an official announcement, the Beijing Municipal People’s Procuratorate revealed that individuals being investigated were one deputy director of a public security bureau branch office, one police officer, one auxiliary police officer, and two security guards.
 
[7] Beijing Municipal Procuratorate, “The Fourth Sub-Procuratorate of Beijing Municipal People’s Procuratorate Announces and Publishes Lei Yang’s Autopsy in Accordance With Law” [Beijing shi renmin jianchayuan di si fenyuan yifa gaozhi he gongbu lei yang shijian jianding yijian], 30 June 16 (https://www.bjjc.gov.cn/bjoweb/tpxw/88651.jhtml); “Beijing Procuratorate Announced Lei Yang’s Autopsy Results: Cause of Death Is Suffocation” [Beijing jianfang gongbu lei yang an shijian jieguo: xi zhixi siwang], Radio Free Asia, 30 June 16 (https://www.rfa.org/mandarin/yataibaodao/renquanfazhi/yl-06302016143039.html).
 
[8] Beijing Municipal People’s Procuratorate, “Beijing Procuratorate Lawfully Conducted Examination and Investigation on Five Police Officers Including Xing Moumou and Found Elements of Dereliction of Duty Offense Established” [Beijing jian fang yifa shencha rending xing moumou deng wu ming she’an jingwu renyuan fuhe wanhu zhishou zui goucheng tiaojian], 23 December 16 (https://www.bjjc.gov.cn/bjoweb/tpxw/91070.jhtml); “Person in Charge of Fengtai District People’s Procuratorate in Beijing Answers Reporter’s Questions About Dereliction of Duty Case of Five Individuals Including Xing Moumou” [Beijing shi fengtai qu renmin jiancha yuan youguan fuzeren jiu xing moumou deng wu ren wanhu zhishou an da jizhe wen], Qianlong Web, 23 December 16 (https://beijing.qianlong.com/2016/1223/1244603.shtml); Chris Buckley and Adam Wu, “No Trial for Beijing Officers Over Death of Environmentalist,” New York Times, 23 December 16 (https://www.nytimes.com/2016/12/23/world/asia/china-lei-yang-police.html). See also “Fourth Sub-Procuratorate of the Beijing Municipal People’s Procuratorate Heard Opinions From Lawyers in ‘Lei Yang Case’ in Accordance With the Law” [Beijingshi jianchayuan disi fen yuan yifa tingqu “lei yang an” youguan lushi yijian], Xinhua, 9 September 16 (https://news.xinhuanet.com/legal/2016-09/09/c_1119542456.htm). Prior to the December 2016 announcement, the Beijing Fourth Sub-Procuratorate on September 9 said that it had heard opinions and received documentary materials from lawyers representing the officers and Lei’s family. See also Jun Mai, “No Charges for Five Policemen Over Death of Beijing Man While in Custody,” South China Morning Post, 23 December 16 (https://www.scmp.com/news/china/policies-politics/article/2056954/no-charges-five-policemen-over-death-beijing-man-while). This article highlights the reasons supporting the procuratorate’s decision not to indict the police officers.
 
[9] Beijing Municipal People’s Procuratorate, “Beijing Procuratorate Lawfully Conducted Examination and Investigation on Five Police Officers Including Xing Moumou and Found Elements of Dereliction of Duty Offense Established” [Beijing jian fang yifa shencha rending xing moumou deng wu ming she’an jingwu renyuan fuhe wanhu zhishou zui goucheng tiaojian], 23 December 16 (https://www.bjjc.gov.cn/bjoweb/tpxw/91070.jhtml); “Person in Charge of Fengtai District People’s Procuratorate in Beijing Answers Reporter’s Questions About Dereliction of Duty Case of Five Individuals Including Xing Moumou” [Beijing shi fengtai qu renmin jiancha yuan youguan fuzeren jiu xing moumou deng wu ren wanhu zhishou an da jizhe wen], Qianlong Web, 23 December 16 (https://beijing.qianlong.com/2016/1223/1244603.shtml); Chris Buckley and Adam Wu, “No Trial for Beijing Officers Over Death of Environmentalist,” New York Times, 23 December 16 (https://www.nytimes.com/2016/12/23/world/asia/china-lei-yang-police.html). See also “Fourth Sub-Procuratorate of the Beijing Municipal People’s Procuratorate Heard Opinions From Lawyers in ‘Lei Yang Case’ in Accordance With the Law” [Beijingshi jianchayuan disi fen yuan yifa tingqu “lei yang an” youguan lushi yijian], Xinhua, 9 September 16 (https://news.xinhuanet.com/legal/2016-09/09/c_1119542456.htm). Prior to the December 2016 announcement, the Beijing Fourth Sub-Procuratorate on September 9 said that it had heard opinions and received documentary materials from lawyers representing the officers and Lei’s family. See also Jun Mai, “No charges for five policemen over death of Beijing man while in custody,” South China Morning Post, 23 December 16 (https://www.scmp.com/news/china/policies-politics/article/2056954/no-charges-five-policemen-over-death-beijing-man-while). This article highlights the reasons supporting the procuratorate’s decision not to indict the police officers.
 
[10] “Person in Charge of Fengtai District People’s Procuratorate in Beijing Answers Reporter’s Questions About Dereliction of Duty Case of Five Individuals Including Xing Moumou” [Beijing shi fengtai qu renmin jiancha yuan youguan fuzeren jiu xing moumou deng wu ren wanhu zhishou an da jizhe wen], Qianlong Web, 23 December 16 (https://beijing.qianlong.com/2016/1223/1244603.shtml).
 
[11] Ping’an Beijing, “Police Officers and Persons Related to the Lei Yang Case Subjected to Party and Government Discipline” [Lei yang an she an jingwu renyuan he xiangguan zerenren shoudao dang zheng ji chuli], Weibo post, 29 December 16, 4:00 p.m. (https://weibo.com/1288915263/Eomc4p7ai?from=page_1001061288915263_profile&wvr=6&mod=weibotime).
 
[12] Wu Qiang, “The Death and Life of Middle Class Politics in China,” China Change, 13 June 16 (https://chinachange.org/2016/06/13/the-death-and-life-of-middle-class-politics-in-china/). See, e.g., Chun Han Wong, “China Middle-Class Anger Reignited by Death of Researcher in Custody,” Wall Street Journal, 27 December 16 (https://www.wsj.com/articles/china-middle-class-anger-reignites-over-death-of-researcher-in-custody-1482837636); Tom Mitchell, “Beijing Struggles To Contain Anger Over Death in Custody,” Financial Times, 29 December 16 (https://www.ft.com/content/fa93cda0-cd84-11e6-864f-20dcb35cede2); Simon Denyer, “A Young Man Died in Police Custody, and Middle-Class Chinese Are Outraged,” Washington Post, 31 December 16 (https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/asia_pacific/a-young-man-died-in-police-custody-and-middle-class-chinese-are-outraged/2016/12/30/44b03678-cdf1-11e6-85cd-e66532e35a44_story.html).
 
[13] “Statement of Some Renmin University of China Class 88 Alumni Concerning Accidental Death of Classmate Lei Yang” [Zhongguo renmin daxue 88 ji bufen xiaoyou jiu lei yang tongxue yiwai shenwang de shengming], 11 May 16, reprinted in China Digital Times (https://chinadigitaltimes.net/chinese/2016/05/%E4%B8%AD%E5%9B%BD%E4%BA%BA%E6%B0%91%E5%A4%A7%E5%AD%A688%E7%BA%A7%E9%83%A8%E5%88%86%E6%A0%A1%E5%8F%8B%E5%B0%B1%E9%9B%B7%E6%B4%8B%E5%90%8C%E5%AD%A6%E6%84%8F%E5%A4%96%E8%BA%AB%E4%BA%A1%E7%9A%84%E5%A3%B0/); Wu Qiang, “The Death and Life of Middle Class Politics in China—Observing Recent Events, Especially the Death of Lei Yang,” China Change, 13 June 16 (https://chinachange.org/tag/lei-yang/); Didi Kirsten Tatlow, “Chinese Man’s Death in Custody Prompts Suspicion of Police Brutality,” New York Times, 12 May 16 (https://www.nytimes.com/2016/05/13/world/asia/china-lei-yang-police-death.html).
 
[14] “Lei Yang's Case: We Will Not Wait Indefinitely!” [Lei yan an: women buhui ren taijiu!], Radio Free Asia, 8 September 16 (https://www.rfa.org/mandarin/zhuanlan/butongdeshengyin/m0909jkdv-09082016140308.html).
 
[15] Gerry Shih, “Chinese Middle Class in Uproar Over Alleged Police Brutality,” Associated Press, 28 December 16 (https://bigstory.ap.org/article/1639874363d24884a42bafee68b62cd8/chinese-middle-class-uproar-over-alleged-police-brutality); “Rumored That Lei Yang’s Body Has Been Cremated, Family Return Home In Hunan in Silence” [Lei yang yiti chuan yi huohua jiashu jinsheng hui hunan laojia], Voice of America, 7 January 17 (https://www.voachinese.com/a/lei-yang-20170106/3665496.html); “Lei Yang Incident: Family Abandons Litigation, Alumni Protest Procuratorate’s Decision” [Lei yang shijian: jiashu fangqi susong xiaoyou kangyi jian fang caijue], BBC, 29 December 16 (https://www.bbc.com/zhongwen/simp/chinese-news-38456530); “Lei Yang Case Stirs Backlash in Public Opinion, Citizen Requested Information Disclosure” [Lei yang an yinfa yulun fantan gongmin shenqing xinxi gongkai], Radio Free Asia, January 4, 2017 (https://www.rfa.org/mandarin/yataibaodao/renquanfazhi/yf2-01042017101124.html); Simon Denyer, “A Young Man Died in Police Custody, and Middle-Class Chinese Are Outraged,” Washington Post, 31 December 16 (https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/asia_pacific/a-young-man-died-in-police-custody-and-middle-class-chinese-are-outraged/2016/12/30/44b03678-cdf1-11e6-85cd-e66532e35a44_story.html).
 
[16] Simon Denyer, “A Young Man Died in Police Custody, and Middle-Class Chinese Are Outraged,” Washington Post, 31 December 16 (https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/asia_pacific/a-young-man-died-in-police-custody-and-middle-class-chinese-are-outraged/2016/12/30/44b03678-cdf1-11e6-85cd-e66532e35a44_story.html); “[Wei Po's Commentary] Government and Police Are Grasshoppers on the Same Line—Discussion of Lei Yang's Case” [[Wei pu pinglun] zhengfu he jingcha shi yigen xianshang de mazha—tan lei yang an], Radio Free Asia, 28 December 16 (https://www.rfa.org/cantonese/commentaries/wp/com-12282016081444.html); Lao Xu, “Lei Yang ‘Dying in Accordance With Law’ Is a Political Necessity” [Lei yang “yifa er si” shi zhengzhi xuyao], On.cc, 25 December 16 (https://hk.on.cc/cn/bkn/cnt/commentary/20161225/bkncn-20161225000435794-1225_05411_001.html).
 
[17] “Xi Jinping Presides and Convenes the 24th Meeting of the Central Government Leading Small Group on Comprehensive Reform” [Xi jinping zhuchi zhaokai zhongyang quanmian shenhua gaige lingdao xiaozu di ershisi ci huiyi], Xinhua, 20 May 16 (https://news.xinhuanet.com/politics/2016-05/20/c_1118904441.htm). “Public Security Bureau Deliberated on and Passed Public Security Agency Law Enforcement Rules (Version 3)” [Gong’anbu shenyi tongguo gong’an jiguan zhifa xize (disan ban)], Community Online Police Office at Xianghe Garden of the Chengbei Police Station, 23 May 16 (https://www.hanchuan.gov.cn/news/2016523/n146659708.html). Following the meeting, the Public Security Bureau amended and published the Public Security Bureau Deliberated on and Passed Public Security Agency Law Enforcement Rules.
 
[18] See, e.g., “Don’t Exploit Powers in the Name of Law Enforcement; Did You Hear What Xi Said, Police?” People’s Daily, 21 May 16 (https://en.people.cn/n3/2016/0521/c90000-9061035.html). “Reigning in Police Power” [Guanzhu jingquan], The Paper, 22 May 16 (https://www.thepaper.cn/newsDetail_forward_1472501), translated in “It Is Time To Check Police Power,” People’s Daily, 23 May 16 (https://en.people.cn/n3/2016/0523/c90000-9061409.html); “Authoritative Announcements Should Not Trail Public Opinion” [Quanwei fabu buneng luo zai yuqing houmian], Xinhua, 12 May 16 (https://news.xinhuanet.com/legal/2016-05/12/c_1118854762.htm).
 
[19] Chuan Jiang, “Xi Jinping Asked China's Public Security Bureau to ‘Resolve Prominent Problem’” [Xi jinping yaoqiu zhongguo gong’an bumen “jiejue zhifa tuchu wenti”], BBC, 21 May 16 (https://www.bbc.com/zhongwen/trad/china/2016/05/160521_china_police_reform).
 
[20] “From the Forbidden City: Beijing Public Security Resisted Investigation Into Criminal Liability, Difficult for Xi Jinping's Order To Leave Zhongnanhai” [Zijincheng laihong: beijing gong’an zu lei yang an zhuijiu xingze xi jinping zhengling nan chu zhongnanhai], Bowen Press, 28 July 16 (https://bowenpress.com/news/bowen_116959.html).
 
[21] China Digital Times, “Lei Yang Case Closure Stirs Discontent,” 29 December 16 (https://chinadigitaltimes.net/2016/12/lei-yang-case-closure-related-censorship-stir-discontent/); China Digital Times, “Minitrue: Police Escape Charges Over Arrest Death,” 23 December 16 (https://chinadigitaltimes.net/2016/12/police-escape-charges-in-beijing-arrest-death/); China Digital Times, “Minitrue: Beijing Man Dies in Police Custody,” 10 May 16 (https://chinadigitaltimes.net/2016/05/minitrue-beijing-man-dies-police-custody/). See also, Simon Denyer, “A Young Man Died in Police Custody, and Middle-Class Chinese Are Outraged,” Washington Post, 31 December 16 (https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/asia_pacific/a-young-man-died-in-police-custody-and-middle-class-chinese-are-outraged/2016/12/30/44b03678-cdf1-11e6-85cd-e66532e35a44_story.html); Tom Mitchell, “Beijing Struggles To Contain Anger Over Death in Custody,” Financial Times, 29 December 16 (https://www.ft.com/content/fa93cda0-cd84-11e6-864f-20dcb35cede2); Chun Han Wong, “China Middle-Class Anger Reignited by Death of Researcher in Custody,” Wall Street Journal, 27 December 16 (https://www.wsj.com/articles/china-middle-class-anger-reignites-over-death-of-researcher-in-custody-1482837636); Gerry Shih, “Chinese Middle Class in Uproar Over Alleged Police Brutality,” Associated Press, 28 December 16 (https://bigstory.ap.org/article/1639874363d24884a42bafee68b62cd8/chinese-middle-class-uproar-over-alleged-police-brutality); “Caixin’s Report on Lei Yang’s Family Accusing Police of Intentional Infliction of Injury Was Deleted,” [Caixin wang lei yang jiashu kong jingfang guyi shanghai baodao bei shan], Voice of America, 17 May 16 (https://www.voachinese.com/a/voa-news-lei-yang-family-sues-the-police-20160517/3333668.html); Chen Youxi, “Lawyer Chen Youxi: Explanations on a Few Points Regarding Decision To Not Prosecute in Lei Yang Case” [Chen youxi lushi: guanyu lei yang an bu qisu hou de jidian shuoming], 26 December 16, reprinted in Rights Defense Network, 25 December 16 (https://wqw2010.blogspot.com/2016/12/blog-post_47.html); “Rumored That Lei Yang’s Body Has Been Cremated, Family Return Home In Hunan in Silence” [Lei yang yiti chuan yi huohua jiashu jinsheng hui hunan laojia], Voice of America, 7 January 17 (https://www.voachinese.com/a/lei-yang-20170106/3665496.html).
 
[22] Chun Han Wong, “China Middle-Class Anger Reignited by Death of Researcher in Custody,” Wall Street Journal, 27 December 16 (https://www.wsj.com/articles/china-middle-class-anger-reignites-over-death-of-researcher-in-custody-1482837636).
 
[23] “Daughter of Former Renmin University President Initiated Joint Letter, Suffered Sabotage” [Renmin daxue lao xiaozhang nuer jiu lei yang an faqi lianshu zao pohuai], Radio Free Asia, 31 December 16 (https://www.rfa.org/cantonese/news/police-12312016101701.html); “Initiator of Open Letter Before Lei Yang’s Funeral Placed Under Soft Detention, Gao Yu Ordered To Stay Quiet” [Lei yang zangli qian gongkaixin qiantouren bei shanggang gao yu zao jin yan], Voice of America, 6 January 17 (https://www.voachinese.com/a/news-leiyang-case-20170105/3664364.html); “Lei Yang Incident: Family Abandons Litigation, Alumni Protest Procuratorate’s Decision” [Lei yang shijian: jiashu fangqi susong xiaoyou kangyi jian fang caijue], BBC, 29 December 16 (https://www.bbc.com/zhongwen/simp/chinese-news-38456530); “Citizen Requests Disclosure of Contents of Settlement in Lei Yang Case, Jointly Signed Letter Questions Procuratorate and Police Perverted the Law” [Gongmin yaoqiu gongbu lei yang an xieyi neirong lian shu zhiyi jian jing wang fa], Voice of America, 5 January 17 (https://www.voachinese.com/a/news-china-leiyang-case-20170103/3661439.html).
 
[24] “Persons Interested in the Case Prohibited From Attending Lei Yang's Funeral” [Guanzhu renshi beijin chuxi lei yang zangli], Radio Free Asia, 6 January 17 (https://www.rfa.org/mandarin/yataibaodao/renquanfazhi/ml2-01062017102813.html).
 
[25] “Citizen Requests Disclosure of Contents of Settlement in Lei Yang Case, Jointly Signed Letter Questions Procuratorate and Police Perverted the Law” [Gongmin yaoqiu gongbu lei yang an xieyi neirong lian shu zhiyi jian jing wang fa], Voice of America, 5 January 17 (https://www.voachinese.com/a/news-china-leiyang-case-20170103/3661439.html); “Lei Yang's Family Accepted 40 Million To Abandon Litigation Efforts, Lawyer Said It Set a Record of Compensation Amount” [Lei yang jiashu shou 4 qianwan qi shensu lushi cheng chuang peichang jilu], Ming Pao, 31 December 16 (https://news.mingpao.com/pns/dailynews/web_tc/article/20170101/s00013/1483207739006).
 
[26] “Lei Yang's Family Accepted Large Compensation Amount and Abandon Litigation Efforts” [Lei yang jiashu jieshou ju’e peichang fangqi kongsu], Radio Free Asia, 29 December 16 (https://www.rfa.org/cantonese/news/police-12292016082500.html).
 
[27] “Citizen Requests Disclosure of Contents of Settlement in Lei Yang Case, Jointly Signed Letter Questions Procuratorate and Police Perverted the Law” [Gongmin yaoqiu gongbu lei yang an xieyi neirong lian shu zhiyi jian jing wang fa], Voice of America, 5 January 17 (https://www.voachinese.com/a/news-china-leiyang-case-20170103/3661439.html).
 
[28] Maya Wang, Human Rights Watch, Dispatches (blog), “Dispatches: China Should End Deaths in Police Custody,” 27 May 16 (https://www.hrw.org/news/2016/05/27/dispatches-china-should-end-deaths-police-custody). See, e.g., “Record of Meeting With Hunan Lawyer Xie Yang (One)” [Hunan xie yang lushi huijian jilu (yi)], 4 January 17, reprinted in Rights Defense Network, 19 January 17 (https://wqw2010.blogspot.com/2017/01/blog-post_23.html); Wang Qiaoling, “A Third Update on Lawyer Li Chunfu: He Was Drugged in Custody,” China Change, 15 January 17 (https://chinachange.org/2017/01/15/a-third-update-on-lawyer-li-chunfu-he-was-drugged-in-custody/); “Li Heping, Wang Quanzhang Rendered Unconscious From Electric Shock” [Li heping, wang quanzhang ceng zao dianji zhi hunjue], Radio Free Asia, 23 January 17 (https://www.rfa.org/cantonese/news/torture-01232017081848.html); “Several Hundred Police Participated in Forcible Demolition in Xichang, Sichuan, Many Villagers Injured in Altercation Between Officials and Civilians” [Sichuan xichang shubai jingcha qiangchai guan min chongtu duoming cunmin ren shoushang], Radio Free Asia, 6 December 16 (https://www.rfa.org/mandarin/yataibaodao/renquanfazhi/xl1-12062016104213.html); “Official News Media Said Zhang Liumao Was Involved in ‘Armed Riot’; Family Protested in Funeral Home When They Could Not See the Body After Death” [Guan mei zhi zhang liumao “wuzhuang baodong” jiashu si bujian shi binyiguan kangyi], Radio Free Asia, 7 November 15 (https://www.rfa.org/mandarin/yataibaodao/renquanfazhi/ql2-11072015112742.html); Levi Browde, “After 17 Years of Persecution, Falun Gong Survives,” The Diplomat, 21 July 16 (https://thediplomat.com/2016/07/after-17-years-of-persecution-falun-gong-survives/); Didi Kirsten Tatlow, “Accusations of Brutality Cast Harsh Light on Chinese Police,” New York Times, 19 May 16 (https://www.nytimes.com/2016/05/20/world/asia/china-police-brutality-gansu.html). “Don’t Exploit Powers in the Name of Law Enforcement; Did You Hear What Xi Said, Police?” People’s Daily, 21 May 16 (https://en.people.cn/n3/2016/0521/c90000-9061035.html). A commentary appearing in a party-run news outlet acknowledged that the case of Lei Yang was not an isolated incident.
 
[29] “Reigning in Police Power” [Guanzhu jingquan], The Paper, 22 May 16 (https://www.thepaper.cn/newsDetail_forward_1472501), translated in “It Is Time To Check Police Power,” People’s Daily, 23 May 16 (https://en.people.cn/n3/2016/0523/c90000-9061409.html); Sophie Richardson, Human Rights Watch, “Submission by Human Rights Watch To the National People’s Congress Standing Committee On the Draft Revisions to the Police Law,” reprinted in Human Rights Watch, 21 December 16 (https://www.hrw.org/news/2016/12/21/submission-draft-revisions-police-law); Greg Distelhorst et al., “Making Chinese Officials Accountable, Blog by Blog,” Boston Review, 27 September 16 (https://bostonreview.net/world/distelhorst-fu-hou-making-chinese-social-media-accountability).
 
[30] Ministry of Public Security, PRC People’s Police Law (Amendment Draft) [Zhonghua renmin gongheguo renmin jingcha fa (xiuding cao’an gao)], 1 December 16, arts. 17–23, 25 (https://www.mps.gov.cn/n2254536/n4904355/c5561673/part/5561687.doc).
 
[31] Sophie Richardson, Human Rights Watch, “Submission by Human Rights Watch To the National People’s Congress Standing Committee On the Draft Revisions to the Police Law,” reprinted in Human Rights Watch, 21 December 16 (https://www.hrw.org/news/2016/12/21/submission-draft-revisions-police-law); “Draft Law Expands Chinese Police Discretion on Gun Use,” Voice of America, 7 December 16 (https://www.voanews.com/a/draft-law-expands-chinese-police-discretion-on-gun-use/3626762.html); Lucy Hornby and Archie Zhang, “China Police Trigger Gun Debate With Rules of Engagement Push,” Financial Times, 22 January 17 (https://www.ft.com/content/e51bcc60-d866-11e6-944b-e7eb37a6aa8e); Kong Xiaoqi, “Major Amendment to Police Law Initiated, Clarifies Situations When Weapon May Be Used” [“Jingcha fa” qidong daxiu mingque shiyong wuqi juti qingxing], Caixin, 5 December 16 (https://china.caixin.com/2016-12-05/101023541.html).
 
[32] PRC Criminal Law [Zhonghua renmin gongheguo xing fa], passed 1 July 79, amended 14 March 97, effective 1 October 97, amended 25 December 99, 31 August 01, 29 December 01, 28 December 02, 28 February 05, 29 June 06, 28 February 09, 25 February 11, 29 August 15, effective 1 November 15, art. 300 (https://www.cecc.gov/resources/legal-provisions/criminal-law-of-the-peoples-republic-of-china-2015); Supreme People’s Court and Supreme People’s Procuratorate, Interpretation on Several Issues Regarding the Application of Law in Handling Criminal Cases Involving Malfeasance by Public Officials (I), issued 7 December 12, effective 9 January 13 (https://www.court.gov.cn/upload/file/2013/01/08/12/P020130108465212704645.doc).
 
[33] UN Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, adopted by UN General Assembly resolution 39/46 of 10 December 84, entry into force 26 June 87, arts. 4, 7, 16(1) (https://www.un.org/documents/ga/res/39/a39r046.htm). Article 7 of the Convention against Torture provides, “The State Party [...] shall in the cases contemplated in article 5, if it does not extradite him, submit the case to its competent authorities for the purpose of prosecution.” Article 16(1) of the Convention against Torture provides, “Each State Party shall undertake to prevent in any territory under its jurisdiction other acts of cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment which do not amount to torture as defined in article I [...]”). China signed the convention on December 12, 1986, and ratified it on October 4, 1988. United Nations Treaty Collection, Chapter IV, Human Rights, Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, last visited 15 February 17 (https://treaties.un.org/PAGES/ViewDetails.aspx?src=TREATY&mtdsg_no=IV-9&chapter=4&clang=_en). Universal Declaration of Human Rights, adopted and proclaimed by UN General Assembly resolution 217A (III) of 10 December 48, art. 5 (“No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment”) (https://www.un.org/en/universal-declaration-human-rights/index.html). International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, adopted by UN General Assembly resolution 2200A (XXI) of 16 December 66, entry into force 23 March 76, art. 7(“No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment”) (https://www.ohchr.org/EN/ProfessionalInterest/Pages/CCPR.aspx). Basic Principles on the Use of Force and Firearms by Law Enforcement Officials, adopted by the Eighth United Nations Congress on the Prevention of Crime and the Treatment of Offenders, Havana, Cuba, 27 August to 7 September 1990, provision 7 (“Governments shall ensure that arbitrary or abusive use of force and firearms by law enforcement officials is punished as a criminal offence under their law”) (https://www.ohchr.org/EN/ProfessionalInterest/Pages/UseOfForceAndFirearms.aspx).
 
[34] UN Committee against Torture, Concluding Observations on the Fifth Periodic Report of China, adopted by the Committee at its 1391st and 1392nd Meetings (2–3 December 2015), CAT/C/CHN/CO/5, 3 February 16, para. 20 (https://docstore.ohchr.org/SelfService/FilesHandler.ashx?enc=6QkG1d%2fPPRiCAqhKb7yhslEE2YuVt8GA5WKG3GEX%2bZEXqjnsVnWP%