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The Implementation of the Convention Against Torture (CAT) in the People's Republic of China

November 1, 2008

A parallel NGO report by Human Rights in China(HRIC), submitted to the Committee Against Torture in advance of its review of the combined Fourth and Fifth Periodic Reports of the People’s Republic of China on implementation of the Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment.

 Full Report with Executive Summary [PDF, 478K]

Oral intervention of Human Rights in China to the Committee Against Torture



  1. Executive Summary
    1. Key Areas of Concern
    2. Summary of Recommendations
  2. Recommendations
  3. Progress Under Specific Articles of the Convention
    1. Article 1
    2. Article 2(1)
      1. State Secrets System
      2. Reeducation-Through-Labor
      3. Limited Access to Legal Counsel
      4. Restrictions and Attacks on Lawyers
    3. Article 2(2)
    4. Article 12, 13, 14
      1. June Fourth Crackdown
  4. Endnotes
  5. Cited Sources

Executive Summary

Human Rights in China (HRIC) respectfully submits this report to the Committee Against Torture (“Committee”), in advance of the Committee’s review of the Government of the People’s Republic of China’s (“PRC”) combined Fourth and Fifth Periodic Reports on implementation of the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (“CAT”) at its 41st session in November 2008.

HRIC also notes with appreciation the detailed and comprehensive list of issues to be considered during the examination of the State party’s Fourth Periodic Report and looks forward to the opportunity to contribute to the Committee’s review.

Key Areas of Concern

The state secrets system of the PRC presents a key challenge to monitoring and reducing the incidence of torture in China. The state secrets system, which comprises the Law on the Protection of the State Secrets of the People’s Republic of China (hereinafter State Secrets Law), Measures for Implementing the Law on the Protection of the State Secrets of the People’s Republic of China, and other relevant provisions of the State Security Law, Penal Code, and Criminal Procedure Law, prevents independent assessment of CAT implementation measures. In many instances, information requested by the Committee is classified as “state secrets.” Such information control obstructs the Committee’s review process and undermines legislative, administrative, judicial or other measures aimed at preventing acts of torture.

Additional areas of concern highlighted in this report include the definition of torture under PRC law, continuing attacks on defense lawyers, reform of administrative detention including Reeducation-Through-Labor, policies of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization impacting the prevention of torture, and accountability for victims of the 1989 Tiananmen crackdown, including those that suffered torture and ill-treatment.

Summary Of Recommendations

  • The State party should ensure that the definition of torture under the Penal Code (amended 1997), Criminal Procedure Law, and all other relevant laws and regulation, is in compliance with Article 1 of the CAT.
  • The State party should take effective measures to prevent torture, pursuant to Article 2(1) of the CAT. Such effective measures would require the State party to reform the state secrets system, abolish Article 306 of the Penal Code, take steps to prevent attacks on lawyers, ensure access to legal representation under the revised Lawyers Law, and abolish the system of administrative detention-without-trial known as Reeducation-Through-Labor.
  • The Committee should, pursuant to Article 2(2) of the CAT, which states that “no exceptional circumstances” may be invoked to justify torture, request information from the State party regarding the State party’s participation in the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO). In particular, the Committee should request information relating to the prevention or use of torture by SCO member states on individuals suspected of terrorism, separatism or extremism.
  • The State party should ensure, pursuant to Article 4 of the CAT, that all acts of torture are criminal offenses under the Penal Code and are punishable with appropriate penalties.
  • The State party should, pursuant to Article 12, 13 and 14 of the CAT, provide all victims of the 1989 Tiananmen crackdown with a prompt and impartial investigation, respond to victims’ complaints and afford victims with redress and fair and adequate compensation.


 Full Report with Executive Summary [PDF, 478K]

Oral intervention of Human Rights in China to the Committee Against Torture

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