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China defends human rights record during UN periodic review

[JURIST] Members of the Chinese delegation to the UN Committee Against Torture (CAT) [official website] on Monday said that the Chinese government had provided training and enacted judicial reforms [UN press release and transcript summary] to help implement its prohibitions against torture, illegal detention, and enforced disappearances, but that the committee needed to consider policy differences based on China's size, population, and culture. CAT members, who are investigating China's adherence to the Convention against Torture [text] during the committee's fourth periodic review [materials] of the country, raised particular concerns over the torture and mistreatment of detainees, as well as the rights afforded minorities, women, and children, refugee treatment, and the rights of lawyers. The Chinese delegation's committee testimony Monday mirrored the delegation's earlier written response [text, PDF] to the committee's concerns, in which the delegation insisted that "[t]he Chinese government faithfully fulfills its obligation under the Convention and respects the Committee’s recommendations, and at the same time, China’s national conditions should also be taken into full account." Regarding torture, the delegation's response Monday again tracked its earlier written response, which noted:

An analysis of the law enforcement situation in recent years shows that the overwhelming majority of prosecutions strictly abided by the Criminal Procedure Law and other relevant laws and handled cases according to law, thus ensuring the quality of case handling. However, it should be pointed out that cases of extracting confession by torture or collecting evidences by force still exist, due to lack of awareness of rule by law on the part of very few case-handling personnel. Such cases are subject to strict investigation and punishment by the Chinese government in accordance with law.
Reuters has more.

Earlier this month, the Chinese government announced a human rights reform plan [JURIST report] that will involve improving government function, expanding democracy, strengthening the rule of law, improving people’s livelihood, boosting public awareness of human rights, and protecting rights of women, children, and ethnic minorities. The announcement of the plan came amid continued international criticism of Chinese human rights violations. While the country slowly addresses some of the concerns in legislation such as the recent Labor Contract Law [backgrounder], widely considered a major advancement [Bloomberg report] in China's protection of workers' rights, critics have said that such efforts are insufficient. In September, Human Rights in China (HRIC) [advocacy website] issued a report highlighting the continued issue of torture on prisoners [JURIST report] despite domestic and international bans.

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