Amnesty International has urged President George Bush to raise the case of Gedun Choekyi Nyima, the 11th Panchen Lama, during his meeting with President Jiang Zemin in Crawford, TX, on October 25, 2002.

In a letter sent on October 18, 2002, William F. Schulz, Executive Director of Amnesty International USA, told President Bush: “Gedun Choekyi Nyima, the child chosen as the 11th Panchen Lama by the Dalai Lama, was detained in 1995 along with his family and has not been seen since. Please urge that the whereabouts and condition of the child be made public and that any restrictions on his freedom of movement and that of his family be removed. ”

In a separate development, Amnesty International sent a memorandum to the Chinese government urging it to push ahead with reforms to establish genuine rule of law and respect for human rights.

“Every year hundreds of thousands of people suffer human rights violations because there are too few legal safeguards to protect them and no independent bodies to prevent abuses,” the memorandum said.

“In the current economic and social climate in China, violations on this scale cannot be ignored for much longer if China is to continue to develop in a stable social environment,” Amnesty International said.

“The authorities should take action now,” it added.

“Little has been done to give a broader meaning to respect for the rule of law and human rights. This requires institutional reforms and protection of the full range of rights”, Amnesty International said.

In its memorandum, the organization makes recommendations for reform of the judiciary, the abolition of two systems of administrative detention, and the introduction of effective measures to prevent torture.

“These reforms would constitute immediate major steps towards establishing the rule of law and respect for human rights,” Amnesty said.

The National People’s Congress and the State Council should put powers to review all detention in the hands of the judiciary, the organization said.

Reforms are also needed to prevent torture. The government has recognized that torture is used by police and has taken some steps to deal with it. However few safeguards have been introduced to prevent it. This would require lifting current restrictions and obstacles on detainees’ access to lawyers, and ensuring that such access is granted to all detainees promptly after they are taken into custody.

Another essential preventive measure is to ensure that confessions and statements extracted under torture are not used as evidence in court. This is not the case at present, and there are many reports of individuals wrongly imprisoned after having been convicted on the basis of confessions extracted under torture, Amnesty added.