[AFP] BEIJING, Nov 13: Torture of suspects in police detention is widespread in China, Amnesty International said Thursday, citing interviews with nearly 40 lawyers, some of whom said they themselves had been beaten while attempting to protect their clients.
Suspects received electric shocks, were punched, kicked, hit with shoes or bottles filled with water, denied sleep and locked in iron chairs forcing them into painful postures for hours on end, the rights group said. The report, echoing findings by journalists and other rights groups, comes a week before China’s record is set to be scrutinised by the UNs’ anti-torture committee.
It cited official data as saying that China’s top prosecutorial body received at least 1,321 reports of “extracting confession through torture” from 2008 to the first half of 2015. But just 279 individuals were convicted of the offence over the same period, the British-based group added. “For the police, obtaining a confession is still the easiest way to secure a conviction,” said researcher Patrick Poon. “The government seems more concerned about the potential embarrassment wron-gful convictions can cause than about curbing torture in detention,” he added. Fewer than 20 per cent of criminal suspects have access to lawyers, the group said, making abuses harder to prevent. Some lawyers representing activists or banned religious groups have themselves ended up being tortured.