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China orders prison review in response to inmate deaths

[JURIST] China's Ministry of Public Security (MPS) [official website, in Chinese] announced [Xinhua report] Wednesday that it would conduct a review of its prison system in response to the deaths of at least five inmates since February. The suspicious deaths include [China Daily report] the death of two minors, the death on an inmate which guards attributed to a "nightmare," and the fatal beating of an inmate which had been dismissed as an accident until it was investigated by the Supreme People's Procuratorate [official website]. A former Ministry of Justice [official website] official last month called for more security measures [JURIST report] to combat abuse in Chinese prisons. The MPS said the investigation would look at police officers' possible abuse of authority and lack human rights training.

In late November, the UN Committee Against Torture [official website] said in response [text, PDF; JURIST report] to a report on China that it was "concerned about reports of abuses in custody, including high numbers of deaths, possibly related to torture or ill-treatment, and about the lack of investigation into these abuses and deaths in custody." The committee recommended that China arrange for independent investigations into all in-custody deaths and ensure that those responsible for the deaths are prosecuted. China later rejected the report [JURIST report], saying that it was biased. In July, a Chinese prosecutor was given a life sentence [JURIST report] for torturing and killing a corruption suspect.

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