11/03/2009, 00.00
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Torture continues to be the main investigative tool in China

The China Human Rights Defender reports the case of Wang Jinyong, who was tortured during eight days for refusing to allow the demolition of his house. UN Commission says it is “concerned about the situation in the country.”
Beijing (AsiaNews) – Torture continues to be a tool used in China’s prisons to extract “confessions”. Victims of torture are unable get redress, this despite a commitment made by the Chinese government and admission by the Supreme People’s Court, this according to the China Human Rights Defender (CHRD), an NGO fighting for human rights in China.

One example cited by the CHRD is that of Wang Jinyong, who was allegedly subjected to eight days and nights of torture three years ago whilst in police custody in Linyi City, Shandong Province.

Despite all the clear medical and physical evidence of torture, local courts and officials have repeatedly refused to address his allegations, overturn Wang’s conviction based on a confession extracted by torture, or hold his torturers accountable for their actions.

Most recently on 21 October 2009, Wang’s brother, Wang Jinsheng, was turned away by an official at the Shandong Provincial Procuratorate in Jinan City, the government body tasked with investigating allegations of torture.

“Cases like Wang’s demonstrate the lack of an effective mechanism for investigating allegations of torture in China,” said Renee Xia, CHRD’s international director. “The Procuratorate, which is charged with investigating allegations of torture by government officials, often plays the role of sheltering alleged torturers in the government!”

Wang Jinyong’s story began on 13 December 2006 when he was formally arrested on suspicion of “bribery”. In reality, all he did was to oppose local officials who wanted to demolish his family’s home.

He was tortured from 15 to 23 December in the Linshu County Detention Centre, Linyi City, by prosecutor Dong Jinwei and seven other people. The eight torturers wanted to extract a confession from him implicating him in bribery since they had no evidence against him.

His torture session began with him fastened to a chair, followed by sleep and food deprivation. On 20 December, he was struck to the head and passed out. We he regained consciousness, he was handcuffed in a hospital bed and his head was bandaged.

Wang received an official record of his hospital stay, which he and his brother later presented as evidence of his torture. The hospital’s record sheet showed that he sustained injuries compatible with torture.

Following his treatment in the hospital, Wang was detained again, tried and convicted of “bribery.” He was then given a commuted sentence and released from prison. Since then, and despite six complaints, the courts refused to hear his case.

According to the United Nations Convention against Torture, which the Chinese government signed in 1988, “Each State Party shall ensure that its competent authorities proceed to a prompt and impartial investigation, wherever there is reasonable ground to believe that an act of torture has been committed in any territory under its jurisdiction.”

Since China does not have an independent judiciary, Chinese citizens are forced to turn to the same authorities that torture them.

In its concluding observations on China’s state report in 2008, the United Nations Committee Against Torture (CAT) wrote, “The Committee is deeply concerned by the lack of an effective mechanism for investigating allegations of torture as required by the CAT . . . there are serious conflicts of interest with the role played by the Office of the Procuratorate which is charged with investigating allegations of torture by government officials”.

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