Authorities in Wenzhou, Zhejiang, have come up with a new method to deter crime, and it has sparked a huge controversy among the public and experts. Basically, it is called name them and shame them. Police began the spectacle last Thursday by hauling out a group of 65 inmates, dressed in bright yellow prison tunics, and parading them on a public square, the Legal Daily reported yesterday. In front of tens of thousands of jeering onlookers, a police official read out the names of 32 who were convicted, the crimes they had committed and how long their sentences would be. For the 33 who were only accused, they stood quietly as their names and alleged crimes were announced. Forty-four of the 65 were under the age of 22, and most of them came from outside the city. Although the police had tried to maintain order, the scene became chaotic as some people cried, fainted or shouted as their relatives were named, the paper said. The Wenzhou government has trumpeted the tactic of public shaming as part of a campaign to reduce crime and boost the image of a safe city, but instead, it has ignited a huge debate nationwide. Many have hailed the move as an effective way to punish wrongdoers and raise the alarm of ordinary people, and some have even suggested it should be practised on corrupt officials, as well. 'Isn't it karma? The criminals should not only be insulted, but also be denounced,' said one poster on netease.com, which received more than 3,000 comments. But some legal experts say that although there is no law that prohibits public humiliation, the tactics are inappropriate as they have violated basic human rights and especially damaged the people's reputations and personal dignity. 'Even criminals have dignity, not to mention some who were just alleged ones and not yet convicted,' said Liu Xiaoyuan , a Beijing-based rights protection lawyer. 'So what will the judicial authorities do if finally they are found innocent after being humiliated? 'I think a more effective way to alert the people and lower the crime rate is to strengthen supervision instead of public humiliation.' Li Xuan , a law professor at the Central University of Finance and Economics, agreed. 'If it's not mentioned in the law, authorities should be banned from doing it; otherwise, it will be a violation of the legal process,' he said. He also pointed out that it was not uncommon for governments in China to use public humiliation to attempt to control misbehaviour, particularly during the Cultural Revolution of the 1960s and '70s, when Chinese intellectuals were paraded in front of crowds to be insulted and even beaten. '[But today] public shaming is still used by low-level governments because they lack legal and rights protection awareness,' Professor Li said.