No end in sight
This is the title of a report produced by Amnesty International concerning the use of torture in China. It was only last month that China’s president received a red carpet treatment on his visit to Britain with smiles all round. The subject of human rights was taboo and was not to be mentioned during the course of his visit. The aim was to boost trade and to secure deals such as the nuclear power plant investment.
Human rights infringements are a major issue for China and there is always the hope that there will be a steady improvement over time. Indeed, it is a favourite argument by politicians that engagement – whether through trade, culture, sport or otherwise – is the best way to effect improvements in countries still practising torture or other cruel, inhuman or degrading punishments.
Only it doesn’t seem to be working in places like Saudi Arabia or China despite the huge effort put into engagement with their leaders. Amnesty has just published No End in Sight which shows that if anything, it is getting worse. Despite having signed up to UN Charter against torture, it is still widely practised in all its medieval brutality.
The rot seems to start in police stations and the system of securing confessions acts as an incentive to extract one, by force if necessary. The methods are extremely unpleasant and the least graphic (though no lest brutal) is the ‘tiger bench’ illustrated left.
The report explains the weak nature of the justice system which means no meaningful enquiries are made and that lawyers are themselves coerced or threatened if they try too hard to stop it.
It is alarming that this major nation, which is a member of the Security Council and is thus in a position to influence a lot of what happens in the world, should be steadily getting worse not better as far as human rights are concerned. It is disappointing that the opportunity to express our concerns was apparently not taken during President Xi’s visit.
Reblogged this on Amnesty in Salisbury.