• Switzerland's news in English

China claims progress against torture claims

Nina Larson/AFP · 19 Nov 2015, 09:15

Published: 19 Nov 2015 09:15 GMT+01:00

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Speaking before the UN Committee Against Torture, a large Chinese delegation insisted their country had made "tangible, visible and sustained" achievements in stamping out the scourge of torture from the country's
legislation, judiciary and law-enforcement.
Wu Hailong, China's ambassador to the UN in Geneva and head of the delegation, said his country's "position against torture is firm," insisting it was making "enormous efforts" to halt the abuse.
He and other delegation members spent several hours answering a barrage of questions from the ten-member committee on the first day of the hearing in Geneva on Tuesday.
The committee, which periodically reviews the records of all 156 countries that have ratified the Convention Against Torture, raised a broad range of concerns, including allegations that torture is rife in police detention with little or no accountability for the perpetrators.
Li Wensheng, the deputy director general of legal affairs at China's public security ministry, insisted the country "prohibits torture and prosecutes any personnel or state organs for torture activities."
"There are plenty of cases prosecuting torture offenders," he told the committee, pointing for instance to a case of five police officers sentenced to up to two years in prison for extracting confessions under torture.
Committee member Alessio Bruni responded dryly that those penalties seemed "rather mild".
A report by Amnesty International last week detailed how suspects received electric shocks, were punched, kicked, hit with shoes or bottles filled with water, denied sleep and locked in iron chairs forcing them into painful
postures for hours on end.

Interrogation chairs 'increase safety' 

Story continues below…

Responding to queries about the use of the so-called "interrogation chairs", Li Zhongcheng of the Chinese prosecution authority insisted they were needed to hinder detainees from escaping, injuring themselves or their
"To avoid such situations we use interrogation chairs. The chair is sometimes packaged with soft padding to increase a sense of comfort and to increase safety," he said.
Jens Modvig, one of the committee's top investigators, remained unconvinced, pointing out that "in a detention place there (should be) no need for restraints."
Patrick Poon, one of the researchers behind the Amnesty report, told AFP after the hearing that the chairs were among the biggest complaints from lawyers and their clients.
"They are restrained for hours, and that is very painful. It is really a form of torture," he insisted, adding that the delegation's comments "show the government is not very sincere".
Officials from Hong Kong were meanwhile taken to task over the police crackdown on last year's pro-democracy protests.
Hong Kong's permanent secretary for security Law Chi-kong Joshua insisted to the committee that the police force had shown "a high degree of restraint," pointing out that 133 officers had been injured during the 79-day protest.
Hong Kong activist Ken Tsang, who was filmed during the protests being punched and kicked by a group of police officers while in handcuffs, did not agree.
"They are just lying... They are trying to minimise the violence towards the demonstrators," he told AFP after the hearing.
Seven police officers were charged with assault over the incident, while Tsang himself was also charged with attacking 11 police officers.
Tsang, 40, said he had travelled to Geneva to "help put some international pressure on the government" and to protest that the police officers were not charged with torture.
The video, aired by local television network TVB, showed a group of men hauling a handcuffed Tsang to a dark corner in a public park. One man stood over Tsang punching him while three others repeatedly kicked him.
"If it's not torture, what is?" Tsang asked.

For more news from Switzerland, join us on Facebook and Twitter.

Nina Larson/AFP (news@thelocal.ch)

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Today's headlines
Montreux throws hat in Olympic rings
Could Montreux host the 2026 Games? Photo: Ivo Scholz/Swiss Tourism

Montreux is to put itself forward as the host city for the 2026 winter Olympics as part of a potential bid by the cantons of Valais and Vaud.

Geneva car share scheme could help reduce city traffic
Catch a Car is aimed at short hops within a city. Photo: Catch a Car

Catch a Car, already in Basel, launches in Geneva next month.

Swiss women will ‘work for free’ for the rest of year
Female employees in Switzerland earn 19.3 percent less than their male colleagues. File photo: Randy Kashka

Switzerland's gender pay gap means from today, Friday October 21st, women in the country will effectively be working for free for the rest of 2016.

Swiss luxury watches stolen in Paris raid
Police outside the Girard-Perregaux watch store on Thursday. Photo: Bertrand Guay/AFP

The 10 Girard-Perregaux watches are worth half a million euros in total.

Brother-in-law arrested over murder of Swiss teacher
The victim worked in a school in Stabio, near the town of Mendrisio. Photo: Oliver Graf

The primary school teacher was found dead in Ticino earlier this week.

Inside Switzerland’s largest nuclear bunker – 40 years on
Designed to house 20,000 people, the bunker was built in and over two motorway tunnels. Photo: Unterirdisch Ueberleben

The Local takes a tour of the Sonnenberg bunker in Lucerne, opened 40 years ago at the height of the Cold War.

Ten Swiss ski resorts named most expensive in Europe
File photo: Renato Bagattini/Swiss Tourism

Skiers in Switzerland pay the highest prices for their ski passes of anywhere in Europe, according to research.

Eco group fights Bern over wind farm plans
There are currently more than 30 wind farms in Switzerland. Photo: Alpiq

Wind turbines are “gigantic and destructive” machines, says Paysage Libre Suisse.

Vegan wins battle to be accepted by Swiss army
Antoni Da Campo will now carry out his military service. Photo: Antoni Da Campo

A Swiss man who was told he would not be accepted for military service because of his strict veganism has finally succeeded in making the army change its mind.

Geneva terror suspects to receive compensation
File photo: Emran Kassim

The Swiss public prosecutor has dropped the case against them.

Sponsored Article
How to vote absentee from abroad in the US elections
Photo: Richard Juilliard/AFP
Man makes Geneva airport bomb threat ‘for a joke’
Sponsored Article
Last chance to vote absentee in the US elections
Photo: AFP
Solar Impulse team reveals plans for unmanned plane
File photo: Martin Abegglen
Swiss to vote on passport rules for 3rd gen foreigners
Sponsored Article
How to vote absentee from abroad in the US elections
Photo: AFP
Swiss wingsuit hotspot Lauterbrunnen won’t impose ban
Photo: Swiss Tourism
Six reasons Switzerland isn’t as boring as you might think
Photo: Swiss Tourism
Report: Switzerland one of world’s best places for girls
Photo: The Local
Thief returns Swiss cow bells worth thousands
File photo: Wikimedia Commons
One in three rapists isn’t locked up: statistics
Photo: activistin.ch
Tampon-tax protest turns Zurich fountains red
Photo: AFP
Geneva police to lift ban on bearded officers
Photo: Marcel Gillieron/AFP
Suicide chef’s restaurant keeps Michelin stars
Photo: Lara de Salis
11 things the Swiss get tired of hearing abroad
Photo:  Ivo Scholz/Swiss-image.ch
Survey: expats in Switzerland have money but few friends
Photo: AFP
Swiss press criticize Bern’s 'capitulation' on immigration
Photo: Jura Trois Lacs tourism
German ex-policeman is Swiss city’s new hermit
Photo: Dmitry A. Mottl
Ticino votes to favour local workers over foreigners
Photo: file
Some deodorants could cause breast cancer: Swiss study
Photo: Royal Savoy
In pictures: Inside the latest Swiss luxury hotel
Photo: AFP
Geneva airport bomb hoaxer faces 90,000-franc bill
Photo: Schaffhausen police
Mother leaves toddler son alone in car to go clubbing
Photo: Fabrice Coffrini/AFP
Swiss populist attacked by knife-wielding pensioner
Photo: File
Bern argues over passports for 3rd generation foreigners
Photo: Broad Bean Media
Muslim pupils must shake hands – ‘no ifs and buts’
jobs available