In his 2009 U.N. world report, the UN Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, Mr. Philip Alston, dedicated a significant section on the death of Falun Gong practitioners in police custody across China.
The Special Rapporteur called on the Chinese government: there must be a "thorough, prompt and impartial investigation of all suspected cases of extra-legal, arbitrary and summary executions, including cases where complaints by relatives or other reliable reports suggest unnatural death in the above circumstances." Mr. Alston emphasised that such deaths are against the principles of international law. Further, the government bears responsibility for deaths in custody that result from torture, neglect, or the use of force, and also for fear of death in custody due to the life-threatening conditions of detention.
In the 449 page report, the Special Rapporteur issued a review of over 100 UN member states. The section on China took up 30 pages, with 6 pages alone on Falun Gong practitioners' deaths during police custody. The original text of the UN report can be downloaded from the UN official website (http://ap.ohchr.org/documents/dpage_e.aspx?m=103 document number: A/HRC/11/2/Add.1). The report is the most thorough examination of deaths caused by arbitrary torture since Mr. Alston began his term as the Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions.
Also in the report, Mr. Alston included descriptions on various large scale human rights abuses that he investigated in China. Of the 20 individual cases that he took up during his report period of 2008 and 2009, 16 were death cases resulting from the persecution of Falun Gong practitioners. The report also mentioned the massacres in Tibet and the Xinjiang region.
As of today, the United Nations is the only international body able to accept individual cases of human rights abuse by various governments on a regular basis. Of those cases received from non-governmental groups throughout the world, the Special Rapporteur's office only chooses the most serious and credible cases to be included in his annual reports. Those chosen are only a small portion of the typical cases.
On March 13th, 2009, Mr. Alston sent an official UN appeal to the Chinese government, in which he pointed out, "We would like to bring to your government's attention on information we have received regarding the cases of 16 deaths of Falun Gong practitioners due to injuries allegedly sustained in custody in China. While the circumstances under which the deaths occurred differ, all the victims were Falun Gong practitioners and they all died under the supervision of law enforcement officers or soon after their release from custody. Concern is expressed that the arrests and deaths of these individuals were solely connected with their activities as Falun Gong practitioners." (Ibid. p 63)
According to the statistics that the Falun Gong Human Rights Working Group published in March 2009, during the period of the Beijing Olympics, the Chinese communist government arrested at least 10,194 Falun Gong practitioners. Nearly 100 of them are confirmed to have died within several weeks or even several days of their arrest, as a direct result of persecution. (http://www.falunhr.org/reports/PDFs/BeijingOlympicsPersecution.pdf)
Many received heavy sentences and are still in detention. Regarding the 16 cases that Mr. Alston mentioned in the letter to the Chinese government, the Working group submitted them to the UN during 2008 and 2009. All 16 of the practitioners who were arrested around the Olympics period died in police custody.
During the 8th Session of the Human Rights Council, Resolution 8/3 stated that all States have "to conduct exhaustive and impartial investigations into all suspected cases of extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions."
Mr. Alston declared in his letter to the Chinese government, "The Council added that this obligation includes the obligation 'to identify and bring to justice those responsible ... to grant adequate compensation within a reasonable time to the victims or their families and to adopt all necessary measures, including legal and judicial measures, in order to bring an end to impunity and prevent the recurrence of such executions." These obligations to investigate, identify those responsible, and bring them to justice arise also under Articles 7 and 12 of the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment," to which China is a signatory.
In his 2009 report Mr. Alston listed a summary of the 16 Falun Gong practitioners' death accounts. He stressed, "Though they had different experiences, all of their deaths were connected to the harm they suffered under the direct supervision of law enforcement officers." Mr. Alston appealed to the Chinese government, "... to ensure the right to freedom of religion or belief in accordance with the principles set forth in the 1981 Declaration on the Elimination of All Forms of Intolerance and of Discrimination based on Religion or Belief and article 18 of the Universal Declaration on Human Rights."
Among the 16 Falun Gong practitioners who died in custody and were mentioned in the report, 9 were male and 7 were female. They were: Ms. Hu Yanrong, Mr. Bai Heguo, Mr. Fan Dezhen, Mr. Liu Quan, Ms. Chen Yumei, and Ms. Yang Jingfen from Liaoning Province, Mr. Huang Fajun and Ms. Hou Lihua from Hngjiang Province, Ms. Zhong Xuxia, Mr. Zhong Zengfu and Ms. Sun Aimei from Shandong Province, Mr. Yu Zhou from Beijing, Ms. Gu Jianmin from Shanghai, Mr. Gu Qun from Tianjin, Mr. Wu Xinming from Shaanxi Province and Mr. Xiong Zhengming from Inner Mongolia. Without exception, the main cause of their deaths was that police officers brutally beat and tortured them.