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Excerpts from China’s Responses to the Committee Against Torture’s List of Issues

The UN Committee Against Torture will review China on November 17 and 18 in Geneva for its compliance with the Convention Against Torture. Here are short excerpts from China’s responses to the Committee’s List of Issues in advance of the review. 

October 2015

[English translation by Human Rights in China]

Full version of China’s Responses to the Committee Against Torture’s List of Issues

Concerning Article 2, Convention Against Torture

Para 3 (Committee Against Torture’s List of Issues)

According to Chinese law, public security organs must not use state secrets (guojia jimi) as a basis for detention of unlimited duration, and reports from which this question has been derived are untrue.

Detainees’ rights to life and health are fully guaranteed through the active promotion of the socialization of medical treatment and health care, hospitals establishing outpatient clinics or hospitals inside detention centers, doctors conducting cell rounds at fixed intervals, prompt medical treatment for ill persons in detention, and prompt transportation of the seriously ill to hospitals for treatment.

In practice, public security organs undertake investigative activities in strict accordance with the Criminal Procedure Law and Procedural Regulations on the Handling of Criminal Cases by Public Security Organs, safeguarding lawyers’ practice rights in accordance with the law, not permitting violations of criminal suspects’ rights to have the assistance of a lawyer or to meet with a lawyer

“Reports” that some so-called “holders of different political views” have been forbidden from having contact with the outside world and detained for periods exceeding three months and have been “tortured” are untrue.

Para 4

(2) Chinese lawyers are an important force in implementing the basic strategy of ruling the country by law and in the construction of a rule-of-law state. The Chinese government has always attached great importance to this role of lawyers, continuously strengthening and improving the system for lawyers.

In 2007, the Lawyers Law, promulgated 11 years prior, was amended (with adopted amendments taking effect on June 1, 2008) to:  . . . enhance safeguards for lawyers’ practice rights and independence, including: clearly stipulating that lawyers carrying out their work in accordance with the law have the protection of the law, that no organization or individual may infringe upon the lawful rights and interests of a lawyer, and that lawyers engaged in professional activities shall not have their personal rights infringed upon  . . .

China’s lawyers will inevitably play a bigger role in the promotion of rule of law, and in defending parties’ lawful rights and interests and social equity and justice.

Art. 37 [of the Lawyers Law] stipulates that the personal rights of lawyers engaged in professional activities are not to be violated. China has always encouraged and supported lawyers in performing their duties in accordance with the law and engaging in professional practice in accordance with law, and does not permit what is called “retaliation” against lawyers who are engaged in normal professional practice.

Para 10

Detention centers have established epidemic prevention and health systems. Ill detainees may obtain prompt and free treatment and services. Detention centers protect the lawful rights and interests of detainees in accordance with the law. Detainees may obtain prompt and free legal aid. Detention centers carry out detentions strictly according to the detention and examination time limits determined by relevant departments in accordance with the law.

Article 10

Para 14

Law enforcement organs and the judiciary welcome and seriously listen to social organizations’ ideas and recommendations, and accept public supervision.

Article 11

Para 15

Where a prisoner dies of illness, the prison shall issue a medical appraisal. Where the procuratorate has doubts about the prison’s medical appraisal, it may issue a new appraisal as to the cause of death. Where the family of the prisoner has doubts, they may submit them to the procuratorate.

Art. 27 of China’s Detention Center Regulations stipulates that the death of a detainee in detention should be immediately reported to the procuratorate and the organ handling the case, and an appraisal of the cause of death shall be issued by the forensic investigator or a doctor, and notification shall be made to the families of the deceased.

Where the procuratorate organizes for an autopsy, it should notify the close relatives of the deceased detainee to be present [during the autopsy], and invite individuals unrelated to the case or lawyers engaged by the relatives of the deceased to witness [the autopsy].Where the procuratorate appoints another institution that has been verified by judicial authorities as having full forensic evaluation capacity to conduct the autopsy, it should seek the input of the close relatives of the deceased detainee; and where the close relatives of the deceased detainee suggest an alternative institution that has been verified by judicial authorities as having full forensic evaluation capacity to conduct the autopsy, the procuratorate should permit this.

Para 16

China has not found any problems of relevant departments depriving detainees of their right to timely and adequate medical treatment as a form of retaliation.

Criminal suspects and criminals are entitled, by law, to the right to timely medical treatment; detention centers and prisons are all outfitted with the necessary medical equipment and commonly-used drugs; they establish health records of persons in custody, record their health conditions, and ensure that sick people can get timely treatment. At the same time, China’s prisons generally operate as an open system with regard to prison affairs and accept supervision from prisoners and their families.

Gao Zhisheng (高智晟) was released in August 2014 after serving his full prison term . . . . All judicial organs, including public security organs, ensure the aforementioned person['s] right to medical treatment in accordance with the law and guarantee that their health condition is not unlawfully harmed.

Para 18

Chinese law strictly prohibits unlawful detention, takes severe measures against it, and prohibits individuals from establishing private places of detention  . . . .

Para 19

During the period of detention in solitary confinement, disciplinary police shall speak [with the detainee] daily, to inquire about the situation. To strengthen medical treatment work, doctors shall do morning and afternoon rounds daily, inquiring about the health situation of [those in solitary confinement], conduct physical health checkups at 24 hour intervals of each person in solitary confinement, to confirm whether it is suitable to continue solitary confinement. Four, guaranteeing, in accordance with the law, that persons in solitary confinement have normal meals, rest, and outdoor activities.

Persons detained in solitary confinement may make an appointment with the procuratorial staff stationed within a detention center to make an appeal.

Articles 12 & 13

Para 24

The so-called “harvesting of organs of Falun Gong practitioners” is a rumor entirely fabricated by Falun Gong. On the contrary, it is precisely these preposterous and evil tales fabricated by Falun Gong that are exerting mind control on [Falun Gong practitioners] and causing a large number of fanatical followers to commit self-mutilations and suicide.

Para 27

Chinese citizens will not be detained because they disagree with official policies, and related accusations are untrue. Any detainees are entitled to legal safeguards and humane treatment while in custody. The following are the statuses of persons we have made inquiries about at the present time:

[S]o-called “arbitrary arrest and detention of relevant persons,” “opening fire indiscriminately resulting in death,” “excessive use of force in the course of suppressing marches and demonstrations,” “relevant detainees being subjected to torture,” and other remarks are distortions of the facts.

Para 29

(3) Upon receiving allegations of torture, Chinese authorities immediately commence investigations, interview victims and their families, provide necessary physical examinations and psychological consultations and treatment, etc.; where it is verified that there is torture, the perpetrator is investigated for legal responsibility in accordance with the law, and compensation is made to the victim, including payment of compensation money, eliminating the impact on the victims, restoring their reputation, a formal apology, as well as payment of related consolation money for psychological harm.

Para 30

[T]here are no situations where the handling of cases exceeded the effective time limit due to so-called [official] inaction.

Article 16

Para 34

The lawful rights and interests of Chinese citizens are safeguarded by law. Government acts of intimidation and reprisals against citizens do not exist in China.

Liu Xiaobo’s wife, Liu Xia (刘霞), is not under house arrest and no legal coercive measures have been taken [against her].

The masses putting forward their individual appeals by means of petition is a right conferred to citizens by the Constitution and the law, and receives protection in accordance with the law. Unlawfully restricting the personal freedom of petitioners is prohibited by law.

Para 36

(1) All Chinese citizens are equal before the law and equally protected by the law. Regardless of whom their target is, those suspected of committing criminal acts such as “extracting a confession under torture,”  “obtaining evidence by violence,” or “maltreatment of persons in custody” are all strictly dealt with by China’s procuratorial organs in accordance with legal procedures. This is a consistent judicial practice.