12/10/2015, 00.00
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UN calls on Beijing to end torture and secret jails. An appeal for Liu Xiaobo

The United Nations Committee against Torture calls for an end to campaign against activists and lawyers, the closing of illegal "black jails" and gives China one year to "make serious progress" in implementing the Convention against violence in prison. 200 lawyers arrested in July 2015, at least 25 are still in government hands. Writers of international repute call for the release of Nobel laureate Liu Xiaobo.

Beijing (AsiaNews) - The Chinese government must put a stop to the "widespread practice of torturing prisoners", stop the campaign against activists and advocates for human rights and immediately close all illegal "black jails" says the UN Commission against Torture.  The international body has also given Beijing one year to make "serious progress" in implementing the UN Convention against torture in prison.

These demands are contained in a report, presented to the United Nations after a meeting between Commission members and Chinese representatives. The UN body text reads that "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 Commission, composed of 10 international and independent experts, also cites the campaign of arrests against lawyers and human rights activists launched last July 2015. More than 200 dissidents were arrested during a series of raids, and of these "at least 25 remain in detention." The Commission also voices concern about "too many deaths" occurring in police custody.

When one committee member voiced concern over the use of interrogation chairs, in which prisoners are forced into painful postures for hours on end, the Chinese delegation insisted they were needed to keep detainees from injuring themselves, the report said. They also denied the existence of secret detention facilities.

Among the most "important" victims of the Chinese prison system is Liu Xiaobo, a dissident writer and Nobel Peace Prize Winner, imprisoned since 2008. The intellectual composed a document, the “Charter 08”, which calls for democratic change for China. The text was signed by thousands of people, intellectuals and ordinary citizens. For this, in 2008 he was arrested on charges of "inciting subversion of state power". In 2009 he was sentenced to 11 years in prison and, in October 2010, won the Nobel.

On the anniversary of his arrest, a group of internationally renowned intellectuals and writers filed an appeal for his release. Signatories include Margaret Atwood, Ian Rankin, Hanan Al-Shaykh, Elif Shafak and many others. In addition to demand for Liu’s freedom, "one of the most important critics of China to be silenced", the appeal also underscores the unjust incarceration of his wife Liu Xia who is under house arrest: "It is a punishment for her husband's work, and unjust without any legal basis".

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