Amnesty: China legal reforms have failed to prevent torture

Amnesty: China legal reforms have failed to prevent torture

Recent state-drive reforms within China’s judicial system have failed to cease the practice of torturing suspects in order to force confessions, according to a report [text, PDF] released Wednesday by Amnesty International (AI) [advocacy website]. Since 2010, the Chinese government has been scrutinized over human rights violations. AI said Chinese lawyers are finding their attempts to assist clients in seeking redress for human rights violations labelled as “disruptive” and “harmful” to the system and public stability. These lawyers reportedly face threats, harassment, disbarment and even arbitrary detention and torture. While the Chinese government has taken several positive steps towards reforming its laws and legal procedures to reduce the use of torture in the criminal justice system, AI claims the absence of a clear definition of torture in Chinese law is a serious problem contributing to the continued acts.

China’s relationship with torture has been under heavy scrutiny in recent years. In 2010 China issued a ban on the introduction of evidence obtained through torture [JURIST report], but the move did little to alleviate criticisms and allegations of human rights abuses [JURIST op-ed]. In July China’s state media criticized [JURIST report] detained human rights lawyers for actions it says undermine the rule of law. The crackdown on human rights lawyers comes as part of a larger push by President Xi Jinping [BBC profile] to discredit the rights defense movement which has been challenging the government through protests and litigation. In May Chinese prosecutors said that prominent human rights lawyer Pu Zhiqiang had officially been indicted [JURIST report] on charges of fanning ethnic hatred and provoking trouble for comments that he posted online. He had already been detained for one year. Since the beginning of the crackdown [JURIST report], human rights groups as well as the US Department of State have urged China to release those engaged in the peaceful protests and criticism.