Amnesty says torture has become endemic in China

BRUTAL, and sometimes fatal, torture has become endemic in Chinese prisons over the past 10 years, according to Amnesty International.

The government's repeated campaigns to crush crime and political opposition have resulted in far more severe abuses than they did a decade ago, the organisation says in a report today.

Beatings, assaults with electric batons, shackling in uncomfortable positions, sometimes for weeks or months, and suspension in the air by the arms or feet are some of the torture methods listed by Amnesty. Prisoners are often confined in tiny, unlit cells, some of which are too small to stand up or lie down in, deprived of sleep, food and medical treatment and exposed to extreme cold or heat. Although Chinese regulations limit solitary confinement to 15 days, Amnesty says it is frequently imposed for longer periods - often for several months and in some cases for years.

Torture is forbidden by law in China, which ratified the United Nations convention against torture four years ago. Since then, however, 'the incidence of torture in China's prisons and detention centres has, if anything, increased', says the organisation. It believes the law enforcement and justice system 'actually foster torture', saying: 'Prisoners have very few rights in law and virtually none in practice, leading to many criminal and political suspects and prisoners being abused to force confessions and as punishment.'

A Chinese government report on the prison system, published last August, contradicts Amnesty in almost every respect. It asserts that 'China pays close attention to implementing the principles of humanitarianism.' Criminals are provided with proper living accommodation and medical treatment, and their rights and dignity are respected: 'Humiliating of prisoners is forbidden.'

The Chinese government acknowledges that police sometimes use torture to extract confessions, but says it is infrequent and that torturers are punished when reported. Amnesty quotes official sources as saying 407 cases of extracting confessions by torture were investigated and prosecuted in 1991, while 24 wardens and guards were imprisoned in 1990 and 1991 for administering corporal punishment to prisoners. But it adds that the real incidence of torture is reported to be far higher.

Prisoners have no rights to defend themselves against torture and no redress to an independent and impartial trial to air their grievances, with the result that most torturers go unpunished, Amnesty says.

Prison inmates have no contact with the outside world and the law does not guarantee them visiting rights, which are regarded as a privilege. Judges charged with supervising prison conditions have little power and rarely report cases of maltreatment, according to former prisoners quoted by the organisation.

Torture is most often reported during preliminary and pre-trial detention, Amnesty says. Anti-crime campaigns increase the pressure on police to extract confessions, which have great weight in China - the organisation points out that few cases are brought to trial without such an admission of guilt, even where other evidence exists.

The Amnesty report cites 56 individual cases, including some involving women and children.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Arts and Entertainment
The Doctor and Clara have their first real heart to heart since he regenerated in 'Deep Breath'
TV
Life and Style
Apple showed no sign of losing its talent for product launches with the new, slightly larger iPhone 6 making headlines
techSecurity breaches and overhyped start-ups dominated a year in which very little changed (save the size of your phone)
Arts and Entertainment
Jamie Oliver
filmTV chef Jamie Oliver turned down role in The Hobbit
News
The official police photograph of Dustin Diamond taken after he was arrested in Wisconsin
peopleDownfall of the TV star charged with bar stabbing
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Arts and Entertainment
Jeremy Clarkson, left, and Richard Hammond upset the locals in South America
tvReview: Top Gear team flee Patagonia as Christmas special reaches its climax in the style of Butch and Sundance
News
people
Sport
Ashley Barnes of Burnley scores their second goal
footballMan City vs Burnley match report
Arts and Entertainment
Peter Mayhew as Chewbacca alongside Harrison Ford's Han Solo in 'Star Wars'
film
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Man of action: Christian Bale stars in Exodus: Gods and Kings
film
Arts and Entertainment
Tracy Emin's 1998 piece 'My Bed' on display at Christie's
artOne expert claims she did not
News
Ernesto Che Guevara and Fidel Castro, right, met at Havana Golf Club in 1962 to mock the game
newsFidel Castro ridiculed the game – but now investment in leisure resort projects is welcome
News
Hackers revealed Oscar-winning actress Lawrence was paid less than her male co-stars in American Hustle
people
Arts and Entertainment
Clueless? Locked-door mysteries are the ultimate manifestation of the cerebral detective story
booksAs a new collection of the genre’s best is published, its editor explains the rules of engagement
Sport
Robin van Persie is blocked by Hugo Lloris
footballTottenham vs Manchester United match report
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Business Manager

£32000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Business Manager is required ...

Recruitment Genius: Operations Manager

£45000 - £55000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Panel & Cabinet Wireman

£20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Panel Wireman required for small electro...

Recruitment Genius: Electronics Test Engineer

£25000 - £27000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An SME based in East Cheshire, ...

Day In a Page

A timely reminder of the bloody anniversary we all forgot

A timely reminder of the bloody anniversary we all forgot

Who remembers that this week we enter the 150th anniversary year of the end of the American Civil War, asks Robert Fisk
Homeless Veterans appeal: Former soldiers pay their respects to a friend who also served

Homeless Veterans appeal

Former soldiers pay their respects to a friend who also served
Downfall of Dustin 'Screech' Diamond, the 'Saved By The Bell' star charged with bar stabbing

Scarred by the bell

The downfall of the TV star charged with bar stabbing
Why 2014 was a year of technological let-downs

Why 2014 was a year of technological let-downs

Security breaches and overhyped start-ups dominated a year in which very little changed (save the size of your phone)
Cuba's golf revolution: But will the revolutionary nation take 'bourgeois' game to its heart?

Will revolutionary Cuba take 'bourgeois' golf to its heart?

Fidel Castro ridiculed the game – but now investment in leisure resort projects is welcome
The Locked Room Mysteries: As a new collection of the genre’s best is published, its editor Otto Penzler explains the rules of engagement

The Locked Room Mysteries

As a new collection of the genre’s best is published, its editor explains the rules of engagement
Amy Adams on playing painter Margaret Keane in Tim Burton's Big Eyes

How I made myself Keane

Amy Adams hadn’t wanted to take the role of artist Margaret Keane, because she’d had enough of playing victims. But then she had a daughter, and saw the painter in a new light
Ed Richards: Parting view of Ofcom chief. . . we hate jokes on the disabled

Parting view of Ofcom chief... we hate jokes on the disabled

Bad language once got TV viewers irate, inciting calls to broadcasting switchboards. But now there is a worse offender, says retiring head of the media watchdog, Ed Richards
A look back at fashion in 2014: Wear in review

Wear in review

A look back at fashion in 2014
Ian Herbert: My 10 hopes for sport in 2015. Might just one of them happen?

Ian Herbert: My 10 hopes for sport in 2015

Might just one of them happen?
War with Isis: The West needs more than a White Knight

The West needs more than a White Knight

Despite billions spent on weapons, the US has not been able to counter Isis's gruesome tactics, says Patrick Cockburn
Return to Helmand: Private Davey Graham recalls the day he was shot by the Taliban

'The day I was shot by the Taliban'

Private Davey Graham was shot five times during an ambush in 2007 - it was the first, controversial photograph to show the dangers our soldiers faced in Helmand province
Revealed: the best and worst airlines for delays

Revealed: the best and worst airlines for delays

Many flyers are failing to claim compensation to which they are entitled, a new survey has found
The stories that defined 2014: From the Scottish independence referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions

The stories that defined 2014

From the Scottish independence referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions
Stoke-on-Trent becomes first British city to be classified as 'disaster resilient' by the United Nations

Disaster looming? Now you know where to head...

Which British city has become the first to be awarded special 'resilience' status by the UN?