During a two-day session with UN experts, China has said it is making "enormous efforts" to halt abuse, and that "cruel treatment of suspects from ethnic minorities is groundless." An Amnesty report suggests otherwise.
Chinese officials told the United Nations Committee against Torture on Wednesday that the government doesn't hold political prisoners and prohibits torture.
During the 2-day review in Geneva, which began Tuesday, a large Chinese delegation addressed to the UN committee that their country had made "tangible, visible and sustained" achievements in stamping out the scourge of torture in the country.
China's ambassador to the UN in Geneva and head of the delegation, Wu Hailong, said China's "position against torture is firm," and insisted that his country has been making "enormous efforts" to halt abuse.
The 10-member committee, which reviews records of all 156 countries that have ratified the Convention Against Torture, pressed the Chinese delegation team about the use of torture and focused on interrogation chairs.
Li Zhongcheng of the Chinese prosecution said interrogation chairs are needed and used to hinder detainees from escaping, injuring themselves or injuring others.
He added, "To avoid such situations we use interrogation chairs. The chair is sometimes packaged with soft padding to increase a sense of comfort and to increase safety."
Amnesty report says otherwise
A report by Amnesty International last week detailed how suspects in detention are locked in iron chairs for hours on end, denied sleep, punched, kicked, hit with objects and shocked.
Patrick Poon, one of the researchers behind the Amnesty report, told the French news agency AFP that the chairs are one of the biggest complaints from lawyers and their clients.
"They are restrained for hours, and that is very painful. It is really a form of torture," he said.
Golog Jigme, a prominent Tibetan monk who had broke out of Chinese detention in 2012 and attended the committee session in Geneva, voiced disappointment to reporters.
"Regarding the interrogation chair, which was highly debated today, they said it was for the detainee's safety. Look at my wounds, on my hands and feet, in fact it was brutal torture."
Hong Kong also discussed
During the two-day session, the UN experts also questioned Hong Kong officials about excessive use of force during the so-called pro-democracy umbrella movement last year.
Their findings are due to be issued on December 9.
smm/bw (AFP, Retuers)