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Rights group: China police use torture despite legal reforms

Published:Thursday | May 14, 2015 | 12:00 AM
The brother of Huugjilt, a wrongly executed man, holds his grieving mother during a visit to Huugjilt’s tomb in Hohhot in northern China’s Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region. Huugjilt was 18 when he was convicted and executed in 1996 on charges of rape and murder.


Police abuse of criminal suspects to extract confessions in China is a serious problem despite measures to reform the legal system, such as moves to exclude evidence obtained through torture, Human Rights Watch said in a report yesterday.

The report said that police have found ways around the rules by torturing detainees outside of official detention facilities, using methods that leave no visible injuries and taping confessions later.

China's legal system still relies heavily on confessions to produce convictions in nearly every case, partly because of often inadequate manpower to properly investigate crimes.

Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying told reporters yesterday that Chinese law prohibits torture during interrogations and anyone found responsible would be punished. "China is now stepping up efforts to improve the guarantee of human rights in the legal system ... so the public sees fairness and justice in each case," she told reporters.

President Xi Jinping has made a priority of reducing wrongful convictions and reforming the justice system to restore public confidence in the ruling Communist Party, but has declined to consider loosening the party's control over the judiciary.

Last year, a teenager from Inner Mongolia who was convicted of rape and murder and executed 18 years ago was exonerated posthumously. The police officer who oversaw the original case has been charged with using torture to coerce a confession.