Torture evidence set to be ruled inadmissible

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Illegally obtained evidence is likely to be ruled inadmissible in court in a change to the law aimed at eliminating the use of torture to extort confessions during interrogations.

Rules stating that evidence collected by torture and other unlawful ways cannot be used to convict suspects will probably be added to China's Criminal Procedure Law, said Wang Minyuan, a researcher of the Institute of Law under the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, The Beijing News reported yesterday.

Although under the current Criminal Procedure Law, adopted in 1997, the use of torture is strictly forbidden, a series of cases involving torture, violence or threats in interrogations have been uncovered.

This is because the law doesn't preclude evidence obtained through illegal means or address its consequences, Wang said.

The Standing Committee of the National People's Congress - the country's lawmaking body - has listed the amendment on this year's agenda.

Its Legislative Affairs Commission has launched a research project to modify the law, the report said.

The amendment should also take into consideration clauses from the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, a multilateral treaty adopted by the United Nations General Assembly to respect the civil and political rights of individuals, Wang said.

China signed the covenant but it was not ratified.

Under this, a defendant shall "not be compelled to testify against himself or to confess guilt," which is likely to be adopted by China's Criminal Procedure Law, Wang said.

Offering leniency to those who confess to crimes has been one of the major policies in interrogation for several decades in China.

This favors confession over evidence, which prompted some police or procurators to resort to violence.

"But some procurators no longer place such an emphasis on confession," Wang told the newspaper.

High-profile cases of miscarriages of justice due to confessions obtained through torture have led to public criticism in recent years.

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