UN-Special Rapporteur on Torture
It was a big surprise when after 10 years of efforts; the PRC permitted a visit by the law-professor of Vienna, Manfred Nowak. During his visit from the 20 November till 2 December 2005, the ‘Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment’ was allowed to visit various prisons. He was not allowed to do this independently and had to adhere to many limitations though. At the end of his visit, in a press conference on 2 December 2005, he stated, without consideration of the usual diplomatic etiquette, “That some government officials, especially the Ministry of State Security and Public Safety, tried repeatedly to restrict and impede his efforts of finding information, during his visit. He and his team were often watched in their hotel in Beijing as well as in the immediate area by employees of the Secret Service. Also a few supposed victims and their family members were intimidated by the Security personnel and were under Police observation. They were instructed not to meet the Special Rapporteur or they were forcefully prevented from doing so. (…)”
“The Special Rapporteur would like to bear in mind that his predecessors had heard of countless reports of torture and other forms of abuse in China over the years, which were presented to the Government for a public statement. These reports always contained a systematic pattern of torture against ethnic minorities, especially Tibetans, Uyghurs, political dissidents, human rights activists, practicing Falun Gong and house church groups. These accusations were and are still being documented by international Human Rights Organizations.”
“If the Chinese law (…) would also forbid torture (…), then the Chinese definition of torture would not live up to the international standard of the Convention against Torture. Especially physical or psychological torture which do not leave behind any physical evidence, make it impossible to press forward any punishments. (Actually the Chinese word for torture, kuxing, mainly describes physical torture). The fight against torture in China will remain difficult because there is no procedural protection, which is necessary to effectively forbid torture, (…)”
“During his mission the Special Rapporteur noticed the ineffectiveness of the current complaint system. He was told, for example, that in the prison number 4 in Urumqi, no lawyers have received a complaint of torture in the last ten years. (…)”
Forced Labour and “Re-education”
Every citizen of China can, according to the law of the People’s Republic, be forced to work in a camp for three years for the so-called “re-education by work”, without being charged of a crime, standing for trial, receiving a judgement or being able to appeal. All that is needed is a decision by the police which is dependant on the CPC. The reasoning for such disenfranchisement is still today based on political arbitrariness. In order to be sent to one of the many re-education camps, all that is required is to criticise the Communist Party, the corruption of cadres, the all surrounding censorship, wanting an employment representation or freely expressing ones opinion.
The Laogai Research Foundation’s founder and manager, Harry Wu, a board of trustees’ member of the ISHR, has been able to identify 1000 camps. The number of prisoners in these camps is estimated at 4.000.000 people. Millions of Chinese are victims of this kind of confinement. They are misused as work slaves, while the Chinese Government bathed itself in glory at the Olympic Games.
Almost every prisoner in China had or has to endure being beat and kicked. This most frequent use of mistreatment is often clearly visible once a prisoner is released, since they suffer from extensive bruising and physical injuries.