Death in Detention: TCHRD Submission to UN Committee Against Torture

The Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy (TCHRD) submitted an alternative report to UN Committee Against Torture ahead of its review of the Fifth Periodic Report of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) on implementation of the Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (Convention Against Torture). The Convention Against Torture prohibits torture and requires governments to take effective measure to prevent torture, and prosecute torturers.

Since the PRC’s periodic review by the Committee Against Torture (CAT) in 2008, there have been 30 known cases of Tibetans dying in detention. In 2014, 11 Tibetans died in detention. There are probably more cases that have been successfully covered up. Each death is the product of a series of human rights violations, including torture, extrajudicial killing, and enforced disappearance.

reportcover_tchrd2The PRC has repeatedly promised to improve prison conditions and prevent the use of torture and to punish torturers, but these promises have been broken. It is therefore incumbent on the CAT and the international community generally, to acknowledge, condemn, and monitor the use of torture and the resulting deaths in detention.

The PRC has publically condemned torture and voluntarily adopted standards designed to prevent torture, including the Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners (SMR). The SMR were a universally acknowledged benchmark for prison administration. On 22 May 2015, the UN Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice adopted an updated version of the SMR, which was called the “Mandela Rules.” The Mandela Rules are the product of four intergovernmental expert group meetings that worked to update the SMR, which is now 60 years old. It is too early to tell if the Mandela Rules will be as influential.

A longer version of this report will be released separately in mid-November this year.The shadow report can be accessed here.

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