China ratified the UN Convention Against Torture in 1984, but few lawyers, officials or legal scholars are aware of its provisions and the implications for policy and practice of the absolute prohibition against torture. The revised Criminal Procedure Law provides for the exclusion of evidence obtained through torture, but effective provisions to enable lawyers to bring evidence of torture before the court are lacking.

Pre-trial detention centres remain under the control of the police and the regulations governing them are outdated and conflict with later legislation (see our briefing on the draft Detention Centre Law). Detainees have limited access to professional advice or legal aid in cases of alleged forced confessions and miscarriages of justice. 

Our approach to improving the treatment of detainees and making the abolition of torture a reality in China is to build the capacity of Chinese lawyers, civil society organisations and academic institutions to draw on international law and good practice in the provision of legal assistance, delivery of training and advocacy of policy reform.

We are working with Chinese lawyers and legal scholars to raise awareness of the Istanbul Protocol in order to ensure more effective investigation and documentation of torture. We are also supporting their efforts to advocate for improved policy and practice in relation to bringing evidence of torture before the court. 

We are also cooperating with Chinese lawyers to support peer training on the Convention Against Torture and to raise awareness of the role of lawyers in the struggle against torture. We also support their work seeking the overturn of unsafe convictions based on coerced confessions.