The United Nations Special Rapporteur on Torture, Mr. Theo van Boven, announced on June 16, 2004 the postponement of his scheduled visit to China at the request of the Chinese Government. The visit was to begin at the end of June.

In a statement, van Boven said the Chinese Government had informed him that they need additional time to prepare for the two-week visit, “especially given the different authorities, departments, and provinces involved.” The visit of the Special Rapporteur, which was to take place during the time of Theo van Boven’s predecessor, Sir Nigel Rodley, is likely to happen later this year, according to the statement.

While addressing the 60th UN Commission on Human Rights on March 31, 2004 in Geneva, the Special Rapporteur said,

“I can also inform you that I am in regular contact since some time with the authorities of China and I am pleased that the prospects for a visit to China are positive since the Chinese authorities have reconfirmed their invitation and confirmed their agreement of the terms for the visit as set out by me in my correspondence with the authorities. The visit is scheduled to take place as from the end of June for 15 working days.”

Following is the full text of the Special Rapporteur’s statement.

Special Rapporteur on Torture Announces Postponement of Visit to China

16 June 2004

The Special Rapporteur on the question of torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment of the United Nations Commission on Human Rights, Theo van Boven, issued the following statement today:

The Special Rapporteur on torture regrets to announce that his visit to the People’s Republic of China, which was scheduled to take place from the end of June 2004, has now been postponed until later this year at the Government’s request. The need for additional time to prepare for the two-week visit, especially given the different authorities, departments, and provinces involved, was cited by the Government as a reason for the postponement.

While a visit to China has been long-awaited by the Special Rapporteur, he is assured that the need for further preparation indicates the importance the Government attaches to the visit.

The aims of a country visit are for the Special Rapporteur to assess firsthand the situation in the country concerning torture, including institutional and legislative factors that contribute to such practices, and to make relevant recommendations. A fair and credible assessment therefore entails, among other things, freedom of inquiry, such as access to places of detention and interrogation; confidential and unsupervised interviews with detainees, private persons and representatives of civil society, without fear of reprisals; and access to all relevant documentation.