China welcomes visit by UN torture investigator

China hopes a groundbreaking visit by a UN investigator on torture will boost understanding between Beijing and the United Nations, a Foreign Ministry official said Tuesday. The trip by Manfred Nowak, which began Monday, is the culmination of a decade-long UN effort to send an investigator to look into claims of torture and mistreatment by Chinese authorities. "We attach high importance to his visit," said Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Liu Jianchao. "We hope that through his visit we could increase our understanding and contact and promote our good relations." Nowak's 11-day official tour includes stops in Tibet and at Chinese prisons. He arrived Monday and is expected to depart Dec. 2. China has drawn international criticism for allowing police to use torture to extract confessions and for its frequent use of capital punishment. China outlawed torture in 1996, but activists and lawyers say it is widely practiced. "We oppose and forbid all torture and for individual torture cases, the judicial authorities have always taken strict measures to punish them," Liu said.
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