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Reuters
29-09-06, 11:09
China to host UN torture envoy amid brutality claims
23/08/2005 07:53

BEIJING (Reuters) - The U.N. envoy on torture is to visit China this year as Beijing grapples with a series of high-profile cases in which people have been wrongly convicted, and even put to death, after giving forced confessions.

Manfred Nowak, the U.N.’s Special Rapporteur on Torture, would arrive on November 21 and stay for nearly two weeks, the United Nations said on Tuesday.

China has condemned forced confessions and asked courts to think twice before handing down the death penalty, but it is still widely criticised for its arbitrary verdicts.

In one widely publicised case in April, a man was freed after serving 11 years in jail for his wife’s murder after his wife turned up not only alive but with another husband.

The man said he had been tortured into admitting the crime, sparking outrage within China over police brutality.

In June, the children of a Chinese butcher executed for murdering a waitress appealed against his conviction after his "victim" also turned up alive.

China is home to the world’s biggest prison population and has a legal system the U.S. State Department says is characterised by mistreatment of prisoners and an "egregious" lack of due process in the use of the death penalty.

Apart from Beijing, Nowak’s stops will include Xinjiang, home to a large population of ethnic Uighur Muslims, and the capital of Tibet, Lhasa.

Several of China’s most high-profile political prisoners have been Tibetan or Uighur, accused of instigating separatism in the far west.

The U.S. embassy in Beijing has said that as a condition for the rapporteur’s visit, China had agreed to include unannounced visits to prisons and guarantees there would be no reprisals against anyone who spoke to him.

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