< Back to Index

China Human Rights Lawyers Concern Group United Nations "International Day in Support of Victims of Torture" An Overview of Torture Cases of Lawyers in China (2006-2015)


China Human Rights Lawyers Concern Group
United Nations "International Day in Support of Victims of Torture"

An Overview of Torture Cases of Lawyers in China (2006-2015)


“The Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment” (“the Convention”) was passed in the United Nations General Assembly in 1984, entered into force on 26 June 1987. In December 1997, the General Assembly declared June 26 as the United Nations “International Day in Support of Victims of Torture”, aiming to express concern over the suffering of victims and their families from torture, and reiterate condemnation of all kinds of inhuman treatment.


Torture is an act of serious violation of human rights, which is absolutely prohibited by international law. Under no circumstances shall torture be executed or rationalized. Every member of the international community has a responsibility to prevent the occurrence of torture.

27 years have passed since China ratified the Convention in 1988. According to article 2 of the Convention, the Chinese government as the contracting party must fulfill national obligations as follows:

“(1) to take effective legislative, administrative judicial or other measures to prevent in any territory under its jurisdiction acts of torture;

(2) In any exceptional circumstances whatsoever, whether a state of war ... or any other public emergency, may not be invoked as a justification of torture;

(3) order from a superior officer or a public authority may not be invoked as a justification of torture.”


As one of the earliest contracting states, China is no bystander in fulfilling the above responsibility. However, during the past 27 years, the number of Chinese victims of torture has not been reduced but risen. Human rights lawyers are examples of torture victims: Gao Zhisheng , Wang Shengsheng , Jiang Tianyong , Tang Jitian , Zhang Junjie , Wang , Wang Quanzhang , Jin Guanghong , Liu Shihui , Li Tiantian , Tang Jingling , Pu Zhiqiang , Li Fangping , Teng Biao , Li Heping , Zhang Keke , Yu Wensheng , Cai Ying , Wang Yonghang , Li Chunfu, Liu Xiaoyuan , Ni Yulan , Zhang Kai , Jiang Yuanmin, etc. have suffered from all kinds of torture or inhuman treatment from the authorities, which includes violent beating, electric shock, force-feeding and forced injection of drugs, sexual violence, prohibition from rest and food, solitary confinement, cigarette smoke torture, burning, harassment, insults, threats, etc., which caused tremendous physical and psychological harm to each of the lawyer.


Although China has made profound progress in its legal system reform, but the situation of torture remains serious. After all, the unfair and defective criminal procedure and judicial proceedings are the crux of the problem.


In November 2015, the United Nations “Committee against Torture” will again consider China’s fulfillment of the Treaty in Geneva, Switzerland. We strongly urge the Chinese government to abide by the national obligations as a party to the Convention, and to seriously follow up the numerous improvement measures proposed by the Committee to China. Chinese authorities ought to take all measure to ensure that the law enforcement bodies and related administrative organs to prevent torture. China should abide to solemnly commit to “respect and protect human rights” enshrined by article 33 of the Constitution. 


This report aims to expose the torture and inhumane treatment suffered by Chinese human rights lawyers over the years, in order to raise the domestic and the international communities’ attention and concern. In the long run, Chinese criminal procedure, judicial systems and the situation of human rights lawyers are expected to improve. 


Read online

Download PDF here (Evernote)