CHRD Report to UN Committee against Torture Highlights Issues the Chinese Government Should be Asked to Address in its Next Periodic Report

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(Chinese Human Rights Defenders- September 16, 2010) With China’s fifth periodic report to the Committee against Torture (CAT) upcoming, many key problems raised by CAT in 2008 as it considered China’s fourth periodic report have yet to be adequately addressed. In a report to CAT submitted on September 8, CHRD outlines a number of issues and cases for the Committee to include in the List of Issues that the Chinese government will be requested to address in its next report.

“The Chinese government plays up its participation with the UN human rights regime for public relations purposes, yet it continues to ignore or actively challenge recommendations made by the Committee against Torture,” said Renee Xia, CHRD’s International Director. “Meanwhile, torture remains a serious problem across China, and some of the issues raised by CAT in 2008, such as unnatural deaths in detention and the harassment of human rights defenders, have worsened.”

Before the Chinese government submits its fifth periodic report to CAT in November 2012, the Committee will present China with a List of Issues, which will request information from the Chinese government on specific issues, problems, and cases. CHRD’s submission to CAT highlights a number of problems previously identified by CAT, providing updated information on recent developments and calling for continued pressure for positive change in these areas.

CHRD’s report highlights the use of torture to extract confessions as a key issue for the Chinese government to address. While the government will likely point to the promulgation earlier this summer of regulations banning evidence obtained through torture in criminal trials as a sign of progress, CHRD believes that these regulations contain problematic language and stresses that their true value will be determined only by their implementation. One case discussed in the submission is that of Fan Qihang, whose death sentence based on a confession extracted through torture is currently being reviewed by the Supreme People’s Court. This review, a chance to invoke the new rules to overturn his death sentence, is being viewed by many as an important test case.

Another concern raised by CHRD is the ongoing pattern of harassment and abuse of human rights lawyers, human rights defenders, and petitioners. CHRD finds that the Chinese government has failed to take any concrete steps in the past two years to better protect the rights or personal safety of members of these groups, an issue highlighted by CAT in its 2008 Concluding Observations.

Finally, the report examines a litany of problems related to detention centers in China: unnatural deaths in detention centers, arbitrary detention in Re-education through Labor camps, and illegal detention in black jails and psychiatric institutions, as well as abuses in these facilities, are all discussed. Like the harassment of human rights defenders and lawyers, torture in detention centers is a long-term concern which the government has been either unable or unwilling to effectively address.

The full text of the report is available on CHRD’s website at:

Earlier this summer, CHRD submitted another report to CAT regarding the Chinese government’s December 2009 submission to CAT pursuant to the Committee’s follow-up procedure, noting that China’s submission ignored the intent of the procedure and challenged CAT’s findings. CHRD’s report and information about CAT’s follow-up procedure is available on the website of the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights at:

For more information:

For information on the Committee against Torture’s working methods:

China’s fourth periodic state report to CAT, submitted February 14, 2006, and related documents, including CAT’s Concluding Observations, adopted November 21, 2008:

For more information on Fan Qihang, see: CHRD, “China’s Highest Court Must Overturn Death Sentence Based on Confession Extracted by Torture,” August 3, 2010,

Media contacts:

Renee Xia, International Director (English and Mandarin): +852 8191 6937

David Smalls, Researcher (English), +1 347 448 5285

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