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Lawyer describes being strapped to iron chair and beaten by police

Amnesty International report finds China’s criminal justice system is still heavily reliant on forced confessions obtained through torture and ill-treatment.

A FORMER PROSECUTOR and lawyer in Beijing says he was beaten last year while investigating a case about torture at a secret detention facility in China.

Tang Jitian told Amnesty International he was tortured by local security officials in March 2014:

“I was strapped to an iron chair, slapped in the face, kicked on my legs and hit so hard over the head with a plastic bottle filled with water that I passed out.”

Jitian was later hooded, his arms handcuffed behind his back and suspended off the ground by his wrists as police beat him.

This is just one of the stories documented in a new report released by Amnesty International.

It has found that China’s criminal justice system is still heavily reliant on forced confessions obtained through torture and ill-treatment, with lawyers who persist in raising claims of abuse often threatened, harassed, or even detained and tortured themselves.

No End in Sight

The report, No End in Sight, documents how criminal justice reforms have done little to change the deep-rooted practice of torturing suspects to extract forced confessions.

Chinese legal experts estimate that less than 20% of all criminal defendants have legal representation.

Colm O’Gorman, executive director of Amnesty International Ireland, said:

In a system where even lawyers can end up being tortured by the police, what hope can ordinary defendants have?

“Papering over a justice system that is not independent, where the police remain all-powerful and where there is no recourse when the rights of the defendants are trampled upon will do little to curb the scourge of torture and ill-treatment in China.”

The government seems more concerned about the potential embarrassment wrongful convictions can cause than about curbing torture in detention.

“For the police, obtaining a confession is still the easiest way to secure a conviction. Until lawyers are allowed to do their jobs without fear of reprisals, torture will remain rampant in China.”

The report documents torture and ill-treatment in pre-trial detention, including beatings by police or by other detainees with the officers’ knowledge or upon their orders.

Tools of torture described include iron restraint chairs, tiger benches – in which individuals’ legs are tightly bound to a bench, with bricks gradually added under the victim’s feet, forcing the legs backwards – as well as long periods of sleep deprivation and the denial of sufficient food and water.

Read: Chinese diplomat arrested after birthday party ends in double murder>

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