Torture and forced confessions are rampant in China as is trampling of human rights, says a report from Amnesty International. Canadian Huseyin Celil is serving a life sentence in China and while there is no proof, there is fear that his forced confession too was extracted through the use of torture. “It has been a very harsh and hard time for Huseyin and his family,” says says Gloria Nafziger, a campaigner for China at Amnesty International Canada.

China recently instituted criminal justice reform it hailed as human rights advances, but Amnesty International found it has had no effect. “Police seem to be in a position where getting a confession is one of the more important things in the criminal process and so the pre-trial stage is where a person is most likely to be tortured in order to get that forced confession,” says Nafziger.

‘Torture seems to be on the increase’

“And so, in spite of the new regulations and laws that were passed, they’ve proved to be ineffective and, in fact, instances of torture seem to be on the increase, not on the decline.”

Of the 37 lawyers interviewed by Amnesty International, 10 said they themselves were tortured because of their inquiries on behalf of clients. The report details the kinds of torture perpetrated by Chinese authorities.

Some detainees have no contact with the outside and are ‘at grave risk’

It also denounces the practice of holding people suspected of terrorism, major bribery or states security offences outside the formal detention system at an undisclosed location for up to six months. Such detainees have no contact with the outside world and are said to be “at grave risk of torture and other ill-treatment.”

Amnesty International’s report has three recommendations:

  • Ensure lawyers and legal activists are able to carry out their work without harassment, intimidation, arbitrary restrictions and fear of detention, torture and other ill-treatment or criminal prosecution.
  • Ensure that no statement obtained under torture or other ill-treatment is used as evidence in any proceedings.
  • Bring Chinese law, policy and practice into line with the absolute prohibition against torture and other ill-treatment under international law.

China says Celil is not Canadian

As for the case of Celil, Amnesty International has written to the new prime minister to ask him to intercede with China on his behalf.  Former Prime Minister Stephen Harper did attempt this, but discussions went nowhere in part, because China does not recognize Celil to be a Canadian citizen.