Detainee Rights

A core tenet of GBCC’s work is the prevention and eradication of all forms of torture and ill-treatment, focusing on the rights of detainees to life, liberty, and security, the right to a fair trial, no punishment without law, as well as freedom of expression and other core human rights.

With the objective of protecting these rights, over the decades GBCC has designed and implemented numerous projects covering the areas of pre-trial and post-trial detention, from the very first hours of detention through to the conviction of prisoners. Our project work focuses on:

  • Substantive detention decisions and the power of evidence
  • Procedural detention decisions
  • Alternatives to detention
  • Pre-trial detention review
  • Detention conditions
  • Remedies and complaint mechanisms

Several elements are crucial to the success of our projects:

  • GBCC’s in-house knowledge of the Chinese legal context and track-record of successful implementation of legal cooperation projects since 1991.
  • GBCC is a respected and trusted partner of the leading judicial organs in China, the Supreme People’s Court, the Supreme People’s Procuratorate, the Ministry of Justice and Ministry of Public Security.
  • Through dialogue, exchanges and capacity building involving the best European and Chinese experts in the field, GBCC is able to tackle the root of problems and bridge the gap between law and practice.
  • Through partnerships with prominent Chinese academic bodies which have a unique link to decision makers, GBCC projects are able to present project empirical research findings at the highest level in China and influence national level policy and practice within the lifetime of projects.
  • GBCC guarantees the sustainability of its project outcomes by empowering local partners and pursuing follow up work which tackles the major problems either through prevention (legislative, procedural reform), through monitoring and inspection, or through a combination of both.

Prevention of Torture in the PRC: from Impunity to Accountability (#1)

From 2006-09 this project, funded by the EU and UK Foreign & Commonwealth Office “Global Opportunities Fund”, worked to reduce the use of torture in China by raising awareness of China's obligations under the UN Convention Against Torture (CAT) and promoting the Optional Protocol within CAT. This project focused on three core elements:

Documenting weaknesses in the domestic legislative and regulatory framework for the prevention of torture, particularly as it applies to arrest, detention and interrogation.

Delivering training for 50 senior police officers from across China on international standards, with a view to changing the culture of impunity within the police.

A six- month lay visitor pilot scheme, whereby GBCC worked with a regional procuratorate to devise a model to promote independent monitoring of the conditions of detention of suspects and the reporting of incidences of abuse.

Prevention of Torture in the PRC: from Impunity to Accountability (#2)

From 2009-12 GBCC worked in collaboration with the Center for Criminal Procedure and Reform (CCPR) at Renmin University, the University of Maastricht, and The Rights Practice (UK) to build on our ongoing objective for preventing torture and other forms of ill-treatment in China. Project activities included training for police trainers, with participation of over 23 colleges from over 23 provinces in China, as well as lay visitor and detention centre monitoring activities, and pilot schemes for victim complaint mechanisms, which have significantly improved the operation of detention centres.

Almost exact replicas of the lay visitor and detention centre schemes introduced in this project were subsequently adopted in September 2011 by the Ministry of Public Security, making it mandatory for monitoring activities to be instigated. The full research findings of this project were also collated, analysed and refined into a publication titled “Three Approaches to Preventing Torture in China”, which was produced in Chinese and in English and disseminated across China and the EU. This project thereby made a significant contribution to the reform of China's criminal justice system.

Protecting Detainees' Rights

In 2006-07 GBCC worked with the Ministry of Public Security's Legal Affairs Department in the development of new rules for interrogation and detention for police officers.

Police Training in Human Rights

In 2003 the GBCC ran a Human Rights training programme for Chinese police officers with funding from UNOHCHR.


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