BEIJING – China's deep-rooted practice of using torture to extract confessions from suspects has seen little improvement despite measures introduced since 2010 to reform the criminal justice system, an international human rights group said Thursday.
The report by Amnesty International echoed the same findings by the Human Rights Watch in a May report. Both reports say the unlawful and inhumane practice remains prevalent in China and that China's efforts to reform its legal system have done little to curb it.
Amnesty International came to the conclusion after interviewing 37 lawyers throughout China, analyzing 590 court decisions, and parsing judicial rules and procedures.
"For the police, obtaining a confession is still the easiest way to secure a conviction," said Patrick Poon, a researcher at Amnesty International.
Yet, despite regular accounts by victims, reports by international human rights groups and exposes in state media, Chinese authorities have insisted that the practice is waning.
In April 2014, Zhao Chunguang, a senior public security official overseeing police detention facilities, said there had not been a single case of coercing confessions through torture at the country's detention centers following new rules aimed at preventing the use of torture.
When responding to the report by the Human Rights Watch in May, Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying told reporters that Chinese law prohibits torture during interrogations and that anyone found responsible would be punished.
Ministry of Public Security and Ministry of Justice did not respond to faxed requests on the practice.
In the report, Amnesty International says forms of torture include beatings, long periods of being handcuffed and leg-cuffed, sleep deprivation, withholding food and water, and denial of medical treatment.
In June, Peter Humphrey, a British man convicted of illegally obtaining information and later released on medical grounds and deported from China, told the media that Chinese authorities withheld medical treatment for his prostate problems to pressure him to make a televised confession in 2013.
Chinese journalist Liu Hu told The Associated Press in September that he was deprived of sleep when he was locked up in a detention center in Beijing. Liu never confessed to any wrongdoing.