Informants need legal protection

Updated: 2013-07-16 10:41

(China Daily)

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Some unknown people attacked and seriously wounded a semi-professional police informer in Huizhou, Guangdong province, recently. The victim had been passing on information on the nexus among underworld operators, government officials and businesspeople to local security bureau officials. Although the identity of the assailants is not known, people suspect that he was injured in a "revenge" attack. If true, this highlights the dangers that police informants face, says an article in Guangzhou Daily. Excerpts:

There is no specific law to protect police informants. Of course, there are scattered clauses in the Criminal Law and the Criminal Procedure Law to provide protection to informants, but the details are too sketchy for security bureau officials to take measures to keep informers out of harms' way.

It's a pity that a specific law on providing protection to informants has not been enacted despite the public demand for one. Worse, every time a police informer is attacked, a heated public discussion follows without reaching a conclusion, and soon the incident is erased from people's memory in the face of more pressing developments.

But every passing day makes life more dangerous for informants and makes them more vulnerable to more criminal assaults.

Hong Kong provides the perfect example of how to stop attacks on police informers. The special administrative region of China has been following a one-sided contact system, so that informants don't have to meet policemen in police stations and other obvious places, protecting their identity and saving them from being targeted by criminals, corrupt officials and unscrupulous businesspeople.

Tolerating attacks on informants is a travesty of justice, which is something we do not hope to see. Hence, it is time the authorities took steps to establish a foolproof system to protect informants.