21 November 2005

The Special Rapporteur of the United Nations Commission on Human Rights on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, Manfred Nowak, began his visit to the People's Republic of China today.

The visit The visit, which runs until 2 December 2005, includes stops in Beijing, Urumqi, Yining and Lhasa. The Special Rapporteur will meet with Government officials and representatives of civil society, among others, and visit detention facilities.

The Special Rapporteur will submit a comprehensive written report on the visit to the Commission on Human Rights at its sixty-second session in 2006.

Mr. Nowak was appointed Special Rapporteur of the Commission on 1 December 2004. As Special Rapporteur, he is independent from any government and serves in his individual capacity. The Commission first decided to appoint a Special Rapporteur to examine questions relevant to torture in 1985. The mandate covers all countries, irrespective of whether or not a State has ratified the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment.

He has previously served as a member of the Working Group on Enforced and Involuntary Disappearances; as the UN expert on missing persons in the former Yugoslavia; as the UN expert on legal questions on enforced disappearances; and as a judge at the Human Rights Chamber for Bosnia and Herzegovina. He is Professor of Constitutional Law and Human Rights at the University of Vienna, and Director of the Ludwig Boltzmann Institute of Human Rights.

For further information on the mandate of the Special Rapporteur, please visit the website: http://www.ohchr.org/english/issues/torture/rapporteur/index.htm