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China protests against "prejudiced" U.N. torture report

By Lucy Hornby, Reuters
November 23, 2008

BEIJING (Reuters) - A United Nations panel on torture that criticised China's record had prejudiced and politicised members, the foreign ministry said late on Saturday.

In recommendations following its review of China earlier this month, the U.N. Committee Against Torture told China to improve monitoring of abuse in prisons and hospitals and called for an inquiry into the use of force on Tibetan protests.

It said Beijing should fully investigate all deaths in state custody and provide more information about how it treats detainees.

"Some individual members of the panel, with prejudice against China and in defiance of the facts, ignored the abundant materials provided by the Chinese government in favour of unconfirmed and even fabricated evidence to deliberately politicize the issue," spokesman Qin Gang said in remarks posted on the ministry's website.

"China resolutely protests this untrue and unprofessional outcome."

The committee cited allegations, collaborated by Chinese legal sources, of "routine and widespread use of torture and ill-treatment of suspects in police custody."

The 10 independent experts also said China's state secrets law "severely undermines the availability of information about torture, criminal justice and related issues" and should be reviewed so that statistics on unusual deaths in prison and other matters can be reviewed by the U.N. panel.

It also called for more disclosure about the fate of Tibetans arrested during a clampdown after protests flared up across Tibetan-inhabited areas.

In response, Qin said China has made great efforts against torture and achieved remarkable progress on human rights.

"The Chinese government will continue to protect human rights, and is willing to promote the further development of human rights, with international cooperation based on equality and mutual respect," he said.

(Reporting by Lucy Hornby; Editing by David Fox)

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