June 24, 2010
   Posted in News Flash
Published By Tashi

Karma Samdrup’s Trial Tests China’s New Regulations To Halt Torture [Thursday, 24 June 2010, 3:43 p.m.]


 
Karma Samdrup, shown in December 2008/AP File

Dharamshala: Karma
Samdrup, a prominent Tibetan environmental philanthropist’s complaint
against police officials for repeatedly torturing him to extract
confession for an offense that he vehemently denied of committing, is a
test case for China’s new regulations on halting evidence obtained
illegally through torture, a US-based rights group said.Karma
Samdrup was arrested from his home in Sichuan Province in January on
alleged charges of buying artifacts from a looted tomb in 1998.
According to his lawyer, Pu Zhiqiang, those charges were dropped after
the police realised that he had a license to buy and sell cultural
relics.His arrest came following his attempts to defend his two
younger brothers, Rinchen Samdrup and Chime Namgyal, who are in jail
since August 2009 for accusing a police official in Chamdo Prefecture
of illegal poaching. “By jumping to his brothers’ defense, Karma
Samdrup apparently angered some powerful people,” The New York Times reported.Relatives
say Namgyal was tortured and then sentenced to 21 months at a labour
camp for “harming national security.” Rinchen Samdrup, who has also
been lauded by the Chinese media in the past, is still awaiting trial
on several charges, including having set up the environmental group
illegally.

 
Karma
Samdrup’s brothers Rinchen Samdrup, top, and Chime Namgyal were jailed
after accusing a police chief of hunting protected animals.

During
his ongoing trial in Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region on 22 June,
Karma Samdrup said that during several months of interrogation,
officers repeatedly beat him, ordered fellow detainees to beat him,
deprived him of sleep for days on end, and drugged him with a substance
that made his eyes and ears bleed – all to extract a confession, Human
Rights Watch (HRW) said.He has nonetheless refused to sign a
self-incriminating statement and has entered a plea of not guilty.
“Karma Samdrup’s trial was a test case for the government’s commitment
to halting torture of criminal suspects in custody to prevent
miscarriages of justice,” the rights group said. According to
the new regulation issued jointly by China’s Supreme People’s Court,
Supreme People’s Procuratorate, Ministry of Public Security, Ministry
of State Security and Ministry of Justice on 30 May, “confessions or
testimony obtained through torture, violence and intimidation are
invalid”. The rules give “defendants the ability to challenge
confessions presented during their trials”.”The rules were
unlikely to make a difference unless they were accompanied by
significant reforms such as granting the right to silence to protect
suspects from self-incrimination, effective remedies in instances of
violations of the right of the defense, and prosecution of law
enforcement agents guilty of having tortured criminal suspects,” HRW
said.”Karma Samdrup’s trial is an important test case for the
Chinese government’s stance towards torture,” said Sophie Richardson,
HRW’s Asia advocacy director. “If the government doesn’t investigate
torture allegations in a manifestly trumped-up case, what hope can
ordinary defendants have?”
The
detention, arrest and torture of the three Tibetan environmentalists on
false charges violate articles 9 and 41 of the Chinese Constitution,
according to Mr Tenzin Norbu, the executive head of the Environment and
Development Desk of the Central Tibetan Administration based in
Dharamsala.The Article 9 stipulates that “…the state ensures
use of natural resources and protects rare animals and plants.
Appropriation or damaging of natural resources by any organisation or
individual by whatever means is prohibited.In the Article 41,
it states, “Citizens have the right to criticise and make suggestions
to any state organ or functionary. Citizens have the right to make to
relevant state organs complaints and charges against, or exposures of,
violation of the law or dereliction of duty by any state organ or
functionary; but fabrication or distortion of facts with the intention
of libel or frame-up is prohibited. In case of complaints, charges or
exposures made by citizens, the state organ concerned must deal with
them in a responsible manner after ascertaining the facts. No one may
suppress such complaints, charges and exposures, or retaliate against
the citizens making them. Citizens who have suffered losses, through
infringement of their civil rights by any state organ or functionary
have the right to compensation.”

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