• Switzerland's news in English

China slammed for use of torture in prisons

The Local · 10 Dec 2015, 10:06

Published: 10 Dec 2015 10:06 GMT+01:00

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

The UN Committee Against Torture also voiced alarm over deaths in custody and a lack of accountability for perpetrators of abuse.
The ten-member committee, which periodically reviews the records of the 156 countries that have ratified an international convention against torture, issued its report after questioning a large Chinese delegation about the
country's record last month.
The investigators had praise for some changes in the law, including a 2012 amendment that bars the use of confessions extracted by torture as evidence in criminal proceedings.
George Tugushi, one of the panel's top investigators, however told reporters that "sometimes there is a distance between theory and practice."
"The committee remains seriously concerned over consistent reports indicating that the practice of torture and ill-treatment is still deeply entrenched in the criminal justice system, which overly relies on confessions
as the basis for convictions," the report said.
A report by Amnesty International last month 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

Story continues below…

While some of these practices are banned by laxly implemented laws, others are sanctioned, the committee noted.
Jens Modvig, another top committee investigator, voiced particular concern over the use of so-called interrogation chairs, which the Chinese delegation insisted were needed to keep detainees from escaping or injuring themselves or
their interrogators.
He said during last month's hearing that "in a detention place there (should be) no need for restraints."
"There are no time limits to how long such an interrogation can take place, which in itself probably amounts to ill-treatment and could easily amount to torture," he said, adding: "This is a sanctioned method of interrogation which
is used everywhere."
The committee also voiced alarm over China's alleged use of so-called black jails, or secret detention facilities — something China's delegation denied.
The committee voiced particular concern over a recent law change allowing a person to be held under "residential surveillance at a designated location" for up to six months, noting that these locations were often kept secret.
This, it said, may place detainees "at a high risk of torture and ill-treatment."
"This is in fact legitimizing secret detention," Modvig said.
The report also warned that suspects in many cases lack adequate access to lawyers, insisting that suspects should be held for no more than 48 hours before talking to an attorney, instead of the currently permitted 37 days.
And it voiced alarm over "escalating abuses" targeting lawyers themselves.
The report said more than 200 lawyers and activists had been rounded up in an "unprecedented" crackdown since July, and that 25 reportedly remain under residential surveillance and four are allegedly unaccounted for.
The committee has given Beijing a year to detail progress towards complying with the Convention Against Torture.

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

The Local (news@thelocal.ch)

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Presented by MoneyPark
How to get a mortgage in Switzerland
Houses in Zürich. Photo: Pixabay.

Ready to buy? Here’s what you need to know as an expat about Swiss regulations, how to finance your purchase, and why you should use a broker.

Autumn in Switzerland: ten stunning Instagram photos
Photo: Swiss Tourism/Jan Geerk

Switzerland is beautiful in all seasons, but as these photos show, autumn is a special time in the alpine country.

Report: Swiss progress slows on gender equality
File photo: David Soulivet

Globally, it will take 170 years to achieve gender equality, according to the World Economic Forum.

Brothers go to court to stop suicide of sibling
File photo: Lisa Edmonds

Two men have filed a legal bid to prevent the Swiss assisted suicide association Exit from helping their older brother to kill himself.

Wawrinka snubs past form to reach Basel second round
Wawrinka beat local wildcard Marco Chiudinelli. Photo: Fabrice Coffrini/AFP

US Open champion Stan Wawrinka has reached the second round in Basel after going out in the first round for the past four years.

Villagers asked to help fund bridge renovations
The bridge links the two villages of Veltheim (pictured) and Holderbank. Photo: Lutz Fischer-Lamprecht

The crowdfunding campaign by the two communes is the first of its kind in Switzerland.

Police discover body buried in Orbe house
File photo: Bas Leenders

Police have opened an investigation after finding a body buried in a house in Orbe, in the canton of Vaud, on Saturday.

Valais shaken by 4.2 magnitude earthquake
The earthquake hit in the canton of Valais near Sierre. Photo: Alain Rouiller

It's the biggest earthquake to hit the country for two years.

Swiss Indoors kicks off without champ Federer
Federer celebrates with ball girls and boys after winning the event in 2015. Photo: Harold Cunningham/Pool/AFP

Stan Wawrinka is top seed as injured Federer sits it out.

IOC hires Russian doping whistleblower as consultant
IOC President Thomas Bach confirmed the news. File photo: Fabrice Coffrini/AFP

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has hired Vitaly Stepanov as a consultant and is helping his runner wife Yuliya.

Photo: Unterirdisch Ueberleben
Inside Switzerland’s largest nuclear bunker – 40 years on
Sponsored Article
Last chance to vote absentee in the US elections
Photo: The Local
Ticino firefighters rescue cow from swimming pool
Photo: Antoni Da Campo
Vegan wins battle to be accepted by Swiss army
Photo: Swiss Tourism
Ten Swiss ski resorts named most expensive in Europe
Photo: Randy Kashka
Swiss women will ‘work for free’ for the rest of year
Photo: Swiss Tourism
Montreux throws hat in Olympic rings
Photo: Swiss Tourism
Seven things you’ll miss about Switzerland if you leave
Photo: Richard Juilliard/AFP
Man makes Geneva airport bomb threat ‘for a joke’
Photo: AFP
Solar Impulse team reveals plans for unmanned plane
File photo: Martin Abegglen
Swiss to vote on passport rules for 3rd gen foreigners
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
jobs available