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Friday, 5 May, 2000, 23:55 GMT 00:55 UK
China rejects torture allegations
Chinese troops arrest a Falongong member
China provided little information about those arrested
By Claire Doole in Geneva

China has defended itself to the United Nations against allegations of carrying out torture in prisons, forced labour camps and in police cells.

It is four years since China last appeared before the UN panel of experts to explain its compliance with the UN convention against torture, which it ratified in 1988.

A big Chinese delegation, headed by the Chinese ambassador to the UN in Geneva, said that the number of cases of torture had dropped in recent years and that new laws banned officials from extracting confessions by torture.

Chinese ambassador Qiao Zonghuai said the number of people prosecuted for obtaining evidence by violence had dropped from 193 in 1998 to 173 last year.


Chinese parade
Allegations of torture by security forces rejected

No figures

The delegation had no statistics for the number of people held in administrative detention centres.

It said these inmates had the right of a lawyer to defend them and that they could be compensated for wrongful imprisonment.

Human rights groups say in practice this doesn't happen, as the centres are outside the judicial system.

Minorities

The Chinese delegation dismissed the UN committee's concerns that ethnic minority prisoners were particularly harshly treated.


Tibetan monks
Are Tibetans treated worse?

An official said Tibetan inmates were given special food and allowed to celebrate the Tibetan new year.

He said allegations that Tibetan nuns had been raped in prison and most of those detained in the autonomous region of Xinjiang were tortured, were not worth refuting.

Human rights groups said the delegation's answers were inadequate and dodged the main issues.

The UN panel is due to give its opinion on China's compliance with the UN treaty against torture on Tuesday.

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See also:

04 May 00 | Asia-Pacific
UN raises China 'torture' fears
03 May 00 | Americas
Top ten 'press enemies' named
26 Feb 00 | Americas
China scorns US criticism
23 Mar 00 | Asia-Pacific
China fury over human rights
18 Apr 00 | Asia-Pacific
China escapes UN censure
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