Statements by the CECC Chairs Condemning the Routine Use of Torture in China

Chairs Urge UN Committee Against Torture To Press for Needed Reforms

Congressional-Executive Commission on China

Media Contact: 202-226-3777

November 17, 2015

(Washington, DC)—As the United Nations Committee against Torture begins its review of China’s compliance with the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment on November 17 and 18, 2015, the chair and co-chair of the Congressional-Executive Commission on China (CECC) expressed serious concern about the continued use of torture in China, especially against political and religious prisoners, and the government’s failure to adequately reform the judicial system.

“The use of torture in China is widespread and routine, the evidence is clear, and should be a matter the international community takes very seriously,” said CECC chair, Congressman Chris Smith.  “The persistent use of torture challenges the idea that China can be trusted to uphold human rights or establish a rule of law system that protects them.  Ruthless measures are used regularly to crush dissent, repress religious adherents the government can’t control, brutalize women who seek to circumvent China’s draconian population control policies, and silence legal advocates working on behalf of the poor and persecuted.  I hope China will come clean during the review, though I doubt they will.  I urge the Committee against Torture to speak powerfully in the language of truth and accountability, listen to the victims of abuse, and resist the pressure that will invariably come from China to sanitize its record.”

“As this review commences in Geneva we are reminded of the brutality of the Chinese government, which time and again uses torture and other degrading and inhumane tactics in its effort to stifle dissent and repress basic human rights,” said CECC co-chair, Senator Marco Rubio. “Prominent lawyers like Gao Zhisheng have suffered enormous physical and mental harm, including being tortured with an electric baton to his face, simply for daring to defend members of the Falun Gong movement and Chinese Christians.  Gao’s accounts of the treatment he received at the hands of his captors are cause for great concern especially as we consider the Chinese lawyers and rights advocates, rounded up in July 2015, many of whom remain in police custody or are still unaccounted for.  I urge the Committee against Torture to press the Chinese government on these issues and for the Chinese government itself to enact the reforms necessary to eradicate torture.”

The CECC recently released its congressionally mandated Annual Report which found that, “Reports of torture and other human rights abuses in detention continued to be routine, including the denial of medical treatment and the use of forced hospitalization in psychiatric facilities to detain some individuals without mental health issues.”  The CECC also observed in its 2015 Annual Report that, “A number of NGOs have submitted to the Committee issues of concern ranging from an insufficient legal definition of torture under Chinese law to the use of extralegal detention facilities such as ‘black jails.’”

The CECC maintains a searchable database of political prisoners which features many cases involving allegations of torture and severe mistreatment.  The complete database can be accessed here.