Experience from around the world shows that torture can be best prevented by ensuring that places of detention are open to independent monitoring. Secret detention facilities always raise the risk of ill treatment and torture. Access by lawyers, unannounced inspectors and family members should be routine.

Our work in China has helped promote awareness of the Optional Protocol to the Convention Against Torture and the importance of independent monitoring of all places of detention. We supported a project in northeast China to pilot external monitoring of pre-trial detention centres. Sadly, China's draft detention law, issued for comment in June 2017, makes no provision for independent monitoring. We raised this and other concerns in a briefing on the draft law.

We have supported the training and participation of duty lawyers to provide detainees with access to legal assistance in the early stage of the Chinese criminal process. And, in our submission to the review of China by the UN Committee Against Torture we called for an end to incommunicado detention, particularly the use of 'residential surveillance in designated locations'.

Previous page image by Stefano Costa