A branch of Chinese city governments set up to monitor everything from unlicensed street vendors to unauthorised construction is rife with abuse of power, a rights group said yesterday.
The report by the New York-based Human Rights Watch catalogues alleged abuses by officers including beatings, property seizures and illegal detentions. The group interviewed 25 people who said they were "slapped, shoved, pushed to the ground, dragged, punched, kicked, and thrown from their vehicles."
One person, Wang Weiwei, set up an unlicensed vegetable stall on a road in Beijing in 2010. Instead of giving her a summons, urban code enforcers beat her, the group said.
"They hit me in the head and face and my nose was bleeding. They punched me in the face until my face was swollen," it quoted Ms Wang as saying.
Violence by officers of the urban management bureaux has caused resentment, triggered riots and could further aggravate public discontent against the government, the rights group said.