AP: Rts Grp: China Blocking Visit Of UN Inspector On Torture

November 9, 2001
Dow Jones Newswires

BEIJING (AP)--China is blocking a promised visit by a U.N. monitor on torture and only "going through the motions" of working with the U.N. on human rights, a New York-based rights group said Friday.

Human Rights in China's criticisms came as the U.N.'s human rights chief, Mary Robinson, was visiting Beijing. Robinson said Thursday that torture is "very widespread" in China. She urged Beijing to let a U.N. expert investigate the problem.

But Human Rights in China quoted the expert, Nigel Rodley, as saying that almost three years of negotiations with China have yet to produce a visit. Although Beijing has said publicly it would welcome a visit, it hasn't communicated such plans to Rodley's office, the group quoted him as saying.

"China is going through the motions of cooperating with the U.N. human rights system," Human Rights in China said. "Such cynical maneuvering makes no impact on the grim fate of those suffering from and dying under torture."

China invited Rodley in 1999 to visit. But the trip never took place because Beijing refused to let him tour prisons and police stations unannounced and to meet privately with prisoners. Both are standard conditions for a visit by the expert.

Rodley, a former director of Amnesty International, is to resign his post as special rapporteur on torture Nov. 12. A visit appears impossible before then.

China's official Xinhua News Agency didn't mention torture in its report of a meeting Friday between Robinson and Chinese President Jiang Zemin.

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Human rights groups say Chinese law enforcement officers routinely use torture to extract confessions from prisoners and criminal suspects.

The banned Falun Gong spiritual movement says its followers have been singled out for torture in China's 2 1-2-year crackdown on the group. Falun Gong says more than 300 of its members have died from abuse in custody.

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