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UN torture expert invited to China

GENEVA,0 April 9 (AFP) - The UN special rapporteur on torture, Nigel
Rodley, said Friday that China had invited him to visit the country
after several years of requests.

A letter of authorization had come in February, said Rodley, adding he
was planning a visit to China in the first half of next year.

The dates and itinerary of the trip still had to be worked out.

"I will seek to go to Tibet," he told journalists on the sidelines of
the meeting of the Human Rights Commission.

The expert refused to speculate why China had agreed to the visit,
saying only that he had been seeking to visit the country for the last
several years.

In his annual report to the commission, the British expert specifically
mentioned the case of former vice-mayor of Zhu Shengwen.

Zhu was allegedly tortured -- punched, kicked and given electric shocks
-- in order to force a confession "on the basis of which he was then
convicted of corruption and sentenced to life imprisonment" in April
1998.

Rodley also listed individual Tibetan monks arrested and alleged to have
been tortured, leading in some cases to death.

The United States is planning to officially censure China for human
rights violations at this year's commission and is seeking support from
the European Union, which appears split on the issue.

Resolutions co-sponsored by Brussels and Washington against China were
tabled between 1990 and 1997 but none managed to pass. Last year both
the United States and the EU adopted a different tack in the form of a
"constructive" dialogue to try and press China to improve its human
rights record.

The United States, though willing to continue dialogue with China,
argues a resolution is necessary given Chinese backsliding on human
rights in the past year.



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