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China police investigate new prison death as larger review continues

[JURIST] Chinese police have begun an investigation into the Saturday death of another prisoner in the country's jails, state news service Xinhua reported [text] Saturday. It was the second death to occur in the facility this year, and comes after last week's announcement of an earlier death [Shanghai Daily report] in a separate facility. The investigation into this death comes as the Ministry of Public Security (MPS) [official website, in Chinese] conducts a broader investigation [JURIST report] into numerous "suspicious" prison deaths in the country. There has been widespread criticism following the deaths, which have frequently been labeled accidental though many suspect they are the consequence of abuse by guards or other inmates.

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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