AI URGENT ACTION: torture fears for tibetan prisoner

Jigme Gyatso, a Tibetan prisoner of conscience and former monk, is suspectedto be seriously ill as a result of torture and ill-treatment in custodyin Qushui prison in the outskirts of Lhasa (in Chinese: Lasa) in the TibetAutonomous Region, China.  

Jigme Gyatso was detained in1996 for his activities in support of Tibetan independence, including settingup a group called the “Association of Tibetan Freedom Movement” and distributingpro-independence leaflets. He was sentenced to 15 years’ imprisonmentin November 1996 as a “counter-revolutionary ringleader”. He has beenisolated from other prisoners and was denied visitors for a few monthsbefore being allowed one at the end of 2010.

He has been tortured or otherwiseill-treated on several occasions. For the first six months of his detentionhe was kept in an “interrogation cell” and tortured. In 1997, he wasbeaten so badly that he could barely walk afterwards. In May 1998, he wasamong a group of prisoners in Drapchi prison who began shouting pro-DalaiLama slogans, prompting a violent response from prison staff, resultingin nine dead. Jigme Gyatso was beaten. The protest coincided with a EuropeanUnion delegation visit to the prison. Jigme Gyatso was also hospitalizedin 2009.

In November 2005 Jigme Gyatsomet with the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture, during the Rapporteur’smission to China. Following their meeting, he was reportedly held in isolationand then hospitalized for several weeks.

The UN Special Rapporteur onTorture has appealed to the Chinese authorities for Jigme Gyatso’s release.The UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention has stated that his detentionwas arbitrary and violated his rights to freedom of expression, associationand assembly.

In May 2004, Jigme Gyatso wasbeaten, including with electric batons, for having shouted pro-Dalai Lamaslogans and given an additional three-year sentence for “inciting separatism”.He is due to be released in March 2014.

PLEASE WRITE IMMEDIATELYin English, Chinese or your own language: n        Urgingthe authorities to immediately and unconditionally release Jigme Gyatso,whohas been detained solely for peacefully exercising his rights to freedomof expression, association and assembly n        Urgingthe authorities to order a full and impartial investigation into allegationsthat Jigme Gyatso has been tortured, with a view to bringing those responsibleto justice, and demanding a guarantee that he will not be tortured or otherwiseill-treated while he remains in custody n        Urgingthe authorities to guarantee that he has access to any medical care hemay require, legal representation of his choosing and family. PLEASE SEND APPEALS BEFORE 21 FEBRUARY 2011 TO:Qushui Prison Governor Jianyuzhang        Qushui prison Qushui county        Lasashi, Xizang Zizhiqu Salutation: Dear Prison Governor Chief Procurator of the Tibet Autonomous Regional People's ProcuratorateZHANG Peizhong Jianchazhang Xizang Zizhiqu Renmin Jianchayuan Lasashi, Xizang Zizhiqu People's Republic of China Salutation: Dear Procurator And copies to: Chairman of the Tibet Autonomous Regional People's GovernmentPadma CHOLING Zhuren Xizang Zizhiqu Renmin Zhengfu 1 Kang'angdonglu Lasashi 850000, Xizang Zizhiqu People's Republic of ChinaFax: +86 891 6335168 Salutation: Dear Chairman Also send copies to diplomatic representativesaccredited to your country. Please check with your section office ifsending appeals after the above date.

Additional Information

Torture and other ill-treatmentremain endemic in places of detention in China, even though China ratifiedthe UN Convention against Torture in 1988. Amnesty International receivesregular reports of deaths in custody, many of them caused by torture, ina variety of state institutions, including prisons, Re-education ThroughLabour facilities and police detention centres.

The broad discretion givento the police by the Criminal Procedure Law (CPL) to detain suspects forlong periods before trial increases opportunities for torture and otherill-treatment. During this time detainees' access to their families andlegal representatives may be limited.

Under the CPL, the police shouldtell detainees' families that they have been detained or arrested, andwhere they are held, within 24 hours, except where it "would hinderthe investigation" (Articles 64 and 71). However, in practice communicationwith the family is frequently denied until detainees are brought to trialor sentenced. Provisions on access to legal counsel also fall short ofinternational standards.

The authorities have passednumerous regulations intended to strengthen the formal prohibition of torturestipulated in China’s Criminal Law. However, the categories of prohibitedbehaviour are limited, and do not comply fully with definitions of tortureunder international law, including, for instance, behaviour causing mentaltorture. New regulations effective from 1 July 2010 and jointly issued by the SPC,Supreme People's Procuratorate, Ministry of Public Security, Ministry ofState Security, and Ministry of Justice, aim to strengthen prohibitionsagainst the use of illegal evidence in criminal cases, including coercedconfessions and other evidence obtained through torture and other ill-treatment,particularly in death penalty cases. However, China’s Criminal ProcedureLaw has still not been amended to explicitly prohibit the use of confessionsobtained through torture or other ill-treatment as evidence before thecourts.

UA: 5/11 Index: ASA 17/002/2011 Issue Date: 10 January 2011

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