BRIEFING: World Uyghur Congress/Uyghur Human Rights Project submit Alternative Report to the United Nations Committee Against Torture (CAT)

For immediate release
November 2, 2015 3:30pm EST
Contact: Uyghur Human Rights Project +1 (202) 478 1920

The World Uyghur Congress (WUC) and Uyghur Human Rights Project (UHRP) have jointly submitted an alternative report to the United Nations Committee Against Torture (CAT) for consideration during the 56th session of the Committee from November 9 to December 9, 2015 in Geneva, Switzerland.

The WUC/UHRP submission joins documentation produced by other civil society organizations such as Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and Human Rights in China. Consideration of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) is expected on November 17. The PRC responded to the committees List of Issues in a document later translated into English by Human Rights in China.

“China’s review at the United Nations Committee Against Torture is an important opportunity to highlight the flagrant abuse of the fundamental human rights of the Uyghur people. It is well documented that Chinese security employ torture of detained Uyghurs as a measure to extract falsified confessions and evidence on so called terrorism, separatism and extremism,” said UHRP Director, Alim Seytoff in a statement from Washington, DC.

Mr. Seytoff added: “The Uyghur Human Rights Project in collaboration with the World Uyghur Congress have compiled a series of cases involving the torture of Uyghurs that send a chilling message about the character of the criminal justice system in China. The increasing militarization of East Turkestan and the inflated budgets of Chinese security in the region mean the pattern of impunity is only set to increase.”

Despite its status as a signatory to the United Nations Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, China continues to carry out acts of state sanctioned violence against its citizens. To date, no effective mechanisms have been initiated in China to curb the practice of torture within its borders and in East Turkestan.

Uyghurs in Chinese government custody frequently suffer from physical abuse and other maltreatment. In late 2005, after making his first official visit to China, during which he visited prisons in Urumchi, Lhasa, and Beijing, Mr. Manfred Nowak, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Torture, confirmed that “torture was widespread” in China. Mr. Nowak added that there has been a “consistent and systematic pattern of torture related to ethnic minorities, particularly Tibetans and Uyghurs.” Forms of torture he documented included the “use of electric shock batons, cigarette burns, guard-instructed beatings by fellow prisoners, submersion in pits of water or sewage, exposure to extreme heat or cold, being forced to maintain uncomfortable positions, deprivation of sleep, food or water, (and) suspension from overhead fixtures by handcuffs.”

The WUC/UHRP report aims to respond to China’s 5th Periodic State report to the Committee Against Torture and to provide additional and alternative information during the 56th session of the Committee from November 9 to December 9, 2015.

The report outlines some of the more concerning details regarding alleged instances and threats of torture, particularly of Uyghurs living in East Turkestan, as well as China’s implementation of the Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment.

The scope of the present report is to address instances of torture that have taken place primarily in East Turkestan against or involving Uyghurs or in locations elsewhere within China’s territory.

Major areas of concern that are addressed in the report:

  • Enforcement of existing legislation on the prohibition of torture
  • Problems with the definition of torture under the Constitution
  • Police and security training/methods
  • Torture in pre-trial detention – forced confessions and obtaining evidence through torture
  • Violence and intimidation aimed at lawyers and human rights defenders
  • Draft laws on terrorism and anti-extremism and their potential for abuses and torture
  • Documented cases of torture of Uyghur prisoners

Among the recommendations, UHRP urges China to cooperate with the Committee to authorize a visit from the current UN special rapporteur on torture to visit East Turkestan and accurately report on conditions; amend its anti-terror legislation to safeguard Uyghurs from torture; and release imprisoned scholar Ilham Tohti, who in his first year of detention has reportedly been shackled and denied food for up to 10 days.

The report can be downloaded here:
http://docs.uyghuramerican.org/pdf/WUC-UHRP-Alternative-Report-to-CAT-56.pdf

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