[JURIST] A former official of the China Ministry of Justice [official website] criticized torture [JURIST news archive] and violence in Chinese prisons Friday, calling for greater security measures [China Daily report] in correctional facilities. The comments come following the February cover-up of the death of a prisoner, whose death was officially attributed to a game of "hide and seek," but which was later revealed to be the result of an attack by a fellow prisoner [Xinhua report]. Officials of the Supreme People's Protectorate (SPP) [People's Daily backgrounder] told the China Daily that the SPP would increase its focus on the prevention of violence in the country's prisons, including violence and torture perpetrated by prison prosecutors and guards.
Friday's comments come amid heightened criticism of China's human rights record following the 2008 Beijing Summer Olympics. In September 2008, Human Rights in China (HRIC) [advocacy website] released a report [JURIST report] indicating that Chinese police and other officials still employ torture to elicit confessions and intimidate political dissidents despite domestic and international bans. A July 2008 report [PDF text; JURIST report] released by Amnesty International (AI) [advocacy website] said the country had failed to make real improvements in the area. The report, which updated an April 2008 AI report [PDF text] detailing ongoing human rights abuses in the country, evaluated the Chinese government on its use of the death penalty, administrative detentions, the detention and abuse of rights activists, including journalists and lawyers, and Internet censorship.