ICT: “Torture widespread and endemic in Tibet – China must end torture in Tibet” – Replies by China not acceptable

Geneva, November 18, 2015. The United Nations’ Committee against Torture concluded its sessions on China today, with the Chinese delegation having to reply to numerous questions raised by Committee members this week in Geneva. Committee members had reiterated their concerns with regard to the lack of judicial independence and the harassment of lawyers in China, and they criticized the lack of response from the Chinese government with regard to investigations into deaths in custody and allegations of torture, also with regard to Tibet. “The Chinese delegation largely denied the existence of issues related to torture, and even appeared to apply different standards with regards to what constitutes torture according to international law. This is inacceptable”, said Head of the UN Advocacy Team at the International Campaign for Tibet, Kai Müller today in Geneva.

The Committee also urged the Chinese delegation to provide more information about allegations of torture in Tibet, in particular about the number of cases of torture in Tibet, on investigations into such cases and their outcome, including penalties. A number of cases of Tibetans were raised by the Committee, among them Tenzin Delek Rinpoche, who died in prison in July while serving a life sentence, and Khenpo Kartse, a respected Tibetan lama serving two and a half years in prison. The Committee urged China to provide more information on investigations into Tenzin Delek Rinpoche’s death in a high-security prison, which has created widespread distress among Tibetans.[1]

The Chinese delegation to the CAT-Committee flatly refused to verify information on cases of Tibetan cases of torture allegations, because of the “unverifiable nature of information”. With regard to the case of Tenzin Delek Rinpoche, the delegation claimed that the authorities proceeded with consent of the family and according to law, in contradiction to the family’s request not to cremate the body to allow for a thorough post-mortem examination. Furthermore, according to the Chinese delegation, there is neither politically motivated imprisonment, nor discrimination against Tibetans.

Members of the Committee acknowledged China for passing a variety of laws, but harshly criticized the country for not putting these into practice, and attributed this to the lack of judicial independence, as one Committee member stated that “a state of law without judicial independence is no state of law”. The Committee also asked the Chinese delegation to allow a trip of the UN Rapporteur on Torture to China.

The International Campaign for Tibet applauds the Committee’s firm stance on principles of rule of law and of the Convention against Torture. Kai Müller: “Torture and ill-treatment are widespread and endemic in Tibet. There is a climate of fear and repression that affects every aspect of life. Tibetans know that they are likely to be subjected to torture upon detention, and they know that in the current political climate even a moderate expression of their own culture and identity, or mild dissent, can lead to arrest. We are concerned about the lack of responses by the Chinese government to the questions of the Committee and the outright denial of issues with regard to Tibet and China. China must turn around its grim record on torture and truly prove that there is rule of law and due process in China”

In advance of this week’s meetings in Geneva, the International Campaign for Tibet submitted a report on torture in Tibet.[2] In February, ICT had published a report that highlights the cases of 29 Tibetans, detailing evidence that these Tibetans had suffered from torture and ill-treatment. The report documents 14 cases of Tibetans who have died in prison or immediately after their release.[3]

[1] International Campaign for Tibet, July 16, 2015: “Body of revered Tibetan lama Tenzin Delek Rinpoche cremated in remote high-security prison facility”, https://savetibet.org/body-of-revered-tibetan-lama-tenzin-delek-rinpoche-cremated-in-remote-high-security-prison-facility/;

[2] International Campaign for Tibet, October 26, 2015: “Civil society submission for the 5th cycle of the United Nations Committee against Torture, review of the People’s Republic of China”, https://savetibet.org/icts-submission-to-un-committee-against-torture-on-chinas-action-in-tibet/;

[3] International Campaign for Tibet, February 26, 2015: „Torture and Impunity – 29 Cases of Tibetan Political Prisoners”, https://savetibet.org/torture-and-impunity-29-cases-of-tibetan-political-prisoners/.