UN Report: Committee against Torture, A/51/44 (1996) (excerpt)

Report of the Committee against Torture – General Assembly
Official Records – Fifty-first Session
Supplement No.44 (A/51/44)
Page 22
H. China
138. The Committee considered the second periodic report of China (CAT/C/20/add.5) at its 251st, 252nd and 254th meetings, on 3 and 6 May 1996 (CAT/SR.251, 252/Add.1 und 254), and has adopted the following conclusions and recommendations:
1. Introduction
139. The Committee welcomes the report of the Government of China as well as its core document (HRI/CORE/1/Add.21). The second periodic report of China dateds 2 December 1995 was due on November 1993. Since China had presented a supplementary report dated 8 October 1992, the timing of this report is quits satisfactory to the Committee.
140. The second periodic report of China follows the CommitteeÕs guidelines and meets them satisfactorily.
141. The Committee also thanks the representative of the State party for his most enlightening verbal introduction to the report and for the way in which he and other members of the Chinese delegation responded so constructively to the questions asked.
2. Positive aspects
142. The reforms contained in the amendments to the Criminal Procedure Law, to take effect in 1997, are an important step towards developing the rule of law in China and towards that country being able to meet its obligations pursuant to the Convention.
143. There are instances reported of police officials being prosecuted and convicted for acts of torture in China, including Tibet.
144. The various steps taken by the Ministry of Public Security pursuant to its notice of January 1992, so as to educate personnel on the prohibition of torture, as noted with satisfaction.
145. The provisions of effective administrative and criminal compensation to victims of abuse is a most welcome development.
146. The Committee notes with pleasure the affirmation of the representative of China that Òheads of cell and trustiesÓ in prisons, as alleged by some non-governmental organizations, do not exist in China.
3. Factors and difficulties impending the application of the provisions of the Convention
147. The Committee acknowledges the sheer size of the task confronting China in policing and administrating a huge land mass with 1.2 billion people at a time of economic and social reconstruction.
4.Subjects of concern
148. The Committee is concerned that according to information supplied by non-governmental organizations torture may be practised on a widespread basis in China.
149. The Committee is concerned also about the following:
(a) The failure to incorporate the crime of torture into the domestic legal system, in terms consistent with the definition contained in article 1 of the Convention;
(b) The claims drawn to the attention of the Committee by non-governmental organizations that torture occurs in China in police stations and prisons in circumstances that very often do not result in investigation proper resolution by the authorities;
(c) The claims made by some non-governmental organizations that the Procuratorate has yet to establish its authority over the police, security and prison services when dealing with allegations of torture and cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment;
(d) The fact that some methods of capital punishment may be in breach of article 16 of the Convention;
(e) The claims made by non-governmental organizations that the special environment that exists in Tibet continues to create conditions that result in alleged maltreatment and even death of persons held in policy custody and prisons;
(f) The failure to provide access to legal counsel to persons at the earliest time of their contact with the authorities. Allegations are made by some non-governmental organizations that incummonicado detention is still prevalent in China;
(g) The important number of deaths reported to the Committee, apparently arising out of policy custody.
5. Recommendations
150. The Committee recommends to the State party the following:
(a) China should enact a law defining the crime of torture in terms consistent with article 1 of the Convention;
(b) A comprehensive system should be established to review, investigate and effectively deal with complaints or maltreatment, by those in custody of every sort. If the Procuratorate is the body that carries out the investigations, it should be given the necessary jurisdiction to carry out its functions, even over the objections of the organ that it is investigating;
(c) The methods of execution of prisoners sentenced to death should be brought into conformity with article 16 of the Convention;
(d) Conditions in prisons should be brought into confirmity with article 16 of the Convention;
(e) Access to legal counsel should be granted to all those detained, arrested or imprisoned as a matter of right and at the earliest stage of the process. Access to the family and to a medical doctor should also be accommodated;
(f) China should consider cooperating in the rehabilitation of torture victims by supporting the establishment of a Rehabilitation Centre for Torture victims in Beijing or some other large cities of the country;
(g) China should continue with its most welcome reforms to its criminal penal law, and continue to train its law enforcement personnel, procurators, judges and medical doctors to become professionals of the highest standing;
(h) China is invited to consider withdrawing its reservations to article 20 and declaring in favour of articles 21 and 22 of the Convention;
(i) An independent judiciary, as defined in international instruments, is so important for ensuring the objectives of the Convention against Torture, that the Committee recommends that appropriate measures be taken to ensure the autonomy/independence of the judiciary in China.

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