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.

Sport
The giant banner displayed by Legia Warsaw supporters last night
football
News
i100(and it's got nothing to do with the Great British Bake Off)
News
news
Sport
footballPremiership preview: All the talking points ahead of this weekend's matches
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn evocation of the conflict through the eyes of those who lived through it
News
Angelina Jolie with her father Jon Voight
people
Arts and Entertainment
Tulisa as a judge on the X Factor in 2012
tvLouis Walsh confirms star's return
Life and Style
fashionClothes shop opens on Bill Clinton Boulevard in Pristina
Voices
The Ukip leader has consistently refused to be drawn on where he would mount an attempt to secure a parliamentary seat
voicesNigel Farage: Those who predicted we would lose momentum heading into the 2015 election are going to have to think again
Arts and Entertainment
Cara Delevingne made her acting debut in Anna Karenina in 2012
film Cara Delevingne 'in talks' to star in Zoolander sequel
News
i100
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
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

Junior Analyst - Graduate - 6 Month fixed term contract

£17000 - £20000 Per Annum Bonus, Life Insurance + Other Benefits: Clearwater P...

Project Manager - Pensions

£32000 - £38000 Per Annum Bonus, Life Insurance + Other Benefits: Clearwater P...

Project Coordinator - Cisco Partner - £110 p/d

£110 per day + competitive: Orgtel: Project Coordinator (SC Cleared), Cisco Go...

KYC Analyst, Birmingham - £200-£250 p/d

£200 - £250 per day + competitive: Orgtel: KYC Analyst, Key Banking Client, Bi...

Day In a Page

Ukraine crisis: The phoney war is over as Russian troops and armour pour across the border

The phoney war is over

Russian troops and armour pour into Ukraine
Potatoes could be off the menu as crop pests threaten UK

Potatoes could be off the menu as crop pests threaten UK

The world’s entire food system is under attack - and Britain is most at risk, according to a new study
Gangnam smile: why the Chinese are flocking to South Korea to buy a new face

Gangnam smile: why the Chinese are flocking to South Korea to buy a new face

Seoul's plastic surgery industry is booming thanks to the popularity of the K-Pop look
From Mozart to Orson Welles: Creative geniuses who peaked too soon

Creative geniuses who peaked too soon

After the death of Sandy Wilson, 90, who wrote his only hit musical in his twenties, John Walsh wonders what it's like to peak too soon and go on to live a life more ordinary
Caught in the crossfire of a cyber Cold War

Caught in the crossfire of a cyber Cold War

Fears are mounting that Vladimir Putin has instructed hackers to target banks like JP Morgan
Salomé's feminine wiles have inspired writers, painters and musicians for 2,000 years

Salomé: A head for seduction

Salomé's feminine wiles have inspired writers, painters and musicians for 2,000 years. Now audiences can meet the Biblical femme fatale in two new stage and screen projects
From Bram Stoker to Stanley Kubrick, the British Library's latest exhibition celebrates all things Gothic

British Library celebrates all things Gothic

Forthcoming exhibition Terror and Wonder: The Gothic Imagination will be the UK's largest ever celebration of Gothic literature
The Hard Rock Café's owners are embroiled in a bitter legal dispute - but is the restaurant chain worth fighting for?

Is the Hard Rock Café worth fighting for?

The restaurant chain's owners are currently embroiled in a bitter legal dispute
Caribbean cuisine is becoming increasingly popular in the UK ... and there's more to it than jerk chicken at carnival

In search of Caribbean soul food

Caribbean cuisine is becoming increasingly popular in the UK ... and there's more to it than jerk chicken at carnival
11 best face powders

11 best face powders

Sweep away shiny skin with our pick of the best pressed and loose powder bases
England vs Norway: Roy Hodgson's hands tied by exploding top flight

Roy Hodgson's hands tied by exploding top flight

Lack of Englishmen at leading Premier League clubs leaves manager hamstrung
Angel Di Maria and Cristiano Ronaldo: A tale of two Manchester United No 7s

Di Maria and Ronaldo: A tale of two Manchester United No 7s

They both inherited the iconic shirt at Old Trafford, but the £59.7m new boy is joining a club in a very different state
Israel-Gaza conflict: No victory for Israel despite weeks of death and devastation

Robert Fisk: No victory for Israel despite weeks of devastation

Palestinians have won: they are still in Gaza, and Hamas is still there
Mary Beard writes character reference for Twitter troll who called her a 'slut'

Unlikely friends: Mary Beard and the troll who called her a ‘filthy old slut’

The Cambridge University classicist even wrote the student a character reference
America’s new apartheid: Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone

America’s new apartheid

Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone