Prisoners wearing handcuffs for prisoners are seen before they are transferred to a new prison in Yinchuan city, northwest China's Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region, on June 28, 2015
Ji Xiangzhao—Imaginechina
November 12, 2015 2:50 AM EST

Recent state-driven reforms within China’s judicial system have failed to halt the practice of torturing and mistreating suspects as a means of forcing confessions, according to a report issued by Amnesty International on Wednesday.

Since 2010, the Chinese government has responded to mounting global scrutiny over human-rights violations in the country with a series of legal measures that putatively condemn “torture” — a term, Amnesty International says, that still lacks a coherent definition in Chinese jurisprudence. The report, titled “No End in Sight,” argues that police forces continue to force prisoners to make confessions by beating them, subjecting them to torture devices, and depriving them of food, sleep, and water.

Amnesty International said 16 of the 37 attorneys interviewed by their clients had attested to being tortured.

“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,” Patrick Poon, an Amnesty International researcher, said in a statement.

The report also alleges that those Chinese lawyers who seek to aid judicial-torture victims are themselves subject to maltreatment and harassment. Of the attorneys interviewed by Amnesty International, 10 said they had personally suffered “torture or other ill-treatment” at the hands of the state while working on cases concerning abuses in the judicial system. An ongoing state crackdown against human-rights lawyers has seen the detention of 248 activists and attorneys, 28 of whom are still in police custody or missing.

“In a system where even lawyers can end up being tortured by the police, what hope can ordinary defendants have?” Poon asked rhetorically in his statement.


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