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Delegates, cops sleep easy as China parliament unveils dissident detention powers

Jason Lee / Reuters

Delegates of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) yawn and sleep in the gallery during explanations of the draft amendment to the Criminal Procedural Law at the second plenary meeting of the National People's Congress at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing March 8, 2012.

Reuters reports from Beijing — China's parliament unveiled legislation on Thursday solidifying police powers to hold dissidents in secret criminal detention, prompting an outcry from artist Ai Weiwei and rights advocates caught in a surge of clandestine detentions last year.

"Detainees' families should be notified within 24 hours, except when impossible, or when they are involved in crimes concerning state security or terrorism, and notification could obstruct investigations," the government said in a provision on detention in legal amendments issued to delegates and reporters.

The secret detention powers drew criticism of the Communist Party's sweeping controls to stifle dissent. The party-controlled parliament more or less automatically approves legislation proposed by the government. Read the full story.

Ng Han Guan / AP

Traffic police officers with neck support pillows given to them as a reward from their commander during the National People's Congress in Beijing on March 8, 2012.