The UN Committee against Torture has today released its concluding observations of China’s report on its adherence to the UN Convention against Torture. China, like other State parties to the Torture Convention is required to submit periodic reports to the Committee on its implementation of the provisions of the Convention.

The Committee expressed deep concern about allegations “corroborated by numerous Chinese legal sources, of routine and widespread use of torture” and, in its section on Tibet, “longstanding reports of torture, beatings, shackling and other abusive treatment, in particular of Tibetan monks and nuns, at the hands of public officials, public security and state security, as well as paramilitary and even unofficial personnel at the instigation or with the acquiescence or consent of public officials.” The International Campaign for Tibet and the Tibetan Government-in-exile both submitted reports to the Committee, providing detailed accounts of torture and abuse that have taken place in Tibetan areas.

The Committee has asked China to provide, within one year, a response to reports of widespread excessive use of force and other abuses related to the spring demonstrations in the Tibetan Autonomous Region and neighbouring Tibetan prefectures and counties.

“The International Campaign for Tibet was compelled by China’s brutal response to the spring demonstrations to produce a report to the Committee. We are therefore gratified that the Committee recognized that China had in its response to the demonstrations ‘deepened a climate of fear’ in Tibet and failed to respond according to its international obligations.

“We are especially pleased that the Committee has called for a ‘prompt, impartial and effective investigation’ of the situation on the ground in Tibet, an appeal that the Dalai Lama has been making since March and that his envoys travelled to China to directly convey to Chinese officials.

“Governments around the world should take serious note of the Commission’s findings and bring them into their human rights discussions with China and resolve to press Beijing to ease its hard line policies and engage with the Dalai Lama in good faith,” said Tsering Jampa, Executive Director of ICT Europe.

In particular, the Committee against Torture expressed concern at:

  • The large number of Tibetans arrested after March 2008 and the “reported lack of restraint with which persons were treated”
  • The failure by the Chinese authorities to investigate deaths of Tibetans “from indiscriminate firing by the police into crowds of reportedly largely peaceful demonstrators” in Kardze county, Ngaba county and Lhasa;
  • The failure to conduct independent and impartial investigations into the use of torture, as well as China’s refusal to allow independent investigators, including the UN and Red Cross, into Tibet;
  • China’s failure to inform the Committee of the whereabouts of “a large number of persons” who have been arrested since March, but whose fate remains unknown.

The Committee also raised the case of the missing 11th Panchen Lama, Gedhun Choekyi Nyima, who was disappeared as a young boy by the Chinese government in 1995 and has been missing since, as well as highlighting gender-related abuse against Tibetan nuns in detention.

The UN Committee against Torture is composed of 10 independent experts with recognized competence in the field of human rights. The Committee heard oral testimony from former Tibetan political prisoners, as well as the International Campaign for Tibet, before issuing its concluding observations.