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02-12-05, 14:34
UAA / UHRP members' update – the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture in the PRC

(December 2, 2005, Washington, DC) The Uyghur American Association (UAA) and the Uyghur Human Rights Project (UHRP) today welcomed initial comments by Dr Manfred Nowak, the UN Special Rapporteur on torture, on his mission to the People’s Republic of China (PRC).

Dr Nowak visited Urumchi [Ch: Wulumuqi] in East Turkistan, and he had planned to visit Ghulja [Ch: Yining] – location of the notorious Yengi Hayat (“New Life”) Prison – but regrettably had to cancel due to time constraints. In Urumchi, Dr Nowak visited Prison Nos. 1, 3, and 4, as well as the Liudao Wan Detention Centre.

Dr Nowak will present a full report of his mission to the PRC to the UN Commission on Human Rights at its sixty-second session in March 2006.

The press release issued today concludes that torture remains “widespread” in the PRC, and is critical of the lack of measures to prevent and report incidents of torture. For instance, describing the “inefficiency” of mechanisms for reporting torture, he states that officials claimed “in Prison No. 4 in Urumqi, the procurators have not received a single torture complaint during the last decade.”

Dr Nowak’s press release is also critical of police and state security officials who “attempted at various times throughout the visit to obstruct or restrict” his work; and he further points out that officials were often warned he would be arriving at a detention facility for inspection, and therefore “the visits could not be considered to have been strictly ‘unannounced.’”

These restrictions – although not explicitly stated by Dr Nowak – undermined certain conditions of his visit, conditions which had been the main sticking point in the 10 years of negotiations between his office and the Chinese authorities. However, Dr Nowak nevertheless expresses his “deep appreciation” for the co-operation he did receive.

UAA and UHRP would like to commend Dr Nowak, his team, and his immediate predecessors – Sir Nigel Rodley and Theo van Boven – for their remarkable persistence and determination in ensuring that the mission to the PRC proceeded in accordance with the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on torture.

Dr Nowak’s report in March 2006 is awaited with great anticipation, and UAA and UHRP shall be joining with all people concerned to urge the Chinese authorities to fully implement all recommendations made to address torture in the PRC.