A United Nations Committee has called upon China to cease its wide-spread use of torture throughout its prison system.
The UN Committee Against torture recently reviewed China’s treatment of detainees for the first time since 2008 in a two-day hearing involving 10 independent committee members and a large Chinese government delegation.
“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 committee said.
The committee also urged China to close its secret jails and to scale back its crackdown on human-rights lawyers, political activists and journalists.
Beijing has one year to report its progress toward implementing policies established in the UN Convention against Torture.
The Chinese delegation maintained that the country has banned torture. It also denied that Chinese authorities hold political prisoners or run secret prisons.
Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Hua Chunying on Thursday said that “In recent years, China has been promoting the rule of law and has made great efforts in all regards, including on opposing torture.”
Committee members said more than 200 lawyers have been targeted since July with more than 25 still in detention. Several members also raised questions about high rates of prisoner deaths.
One member in particular raised concern over the use of “interrogation chairs” in which suspects are forced into painful positions for hours.
The Chinese delegation said those chairs were needed to prevent prisoners form inuring themselves.