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Jimmy Lai in Hong Kong in 2020 (CNS/Tyrone Siu, Reuters)

The United Nations is warning evidence in the trial of prominent Hong Kong Catholic, philanthropist and media mogul Jimmy Lai may have been obtained by torturing a witness in China. Source: UCA News.

The UN Special Rapporteur on torture, Australian lawyer Alice Jill Edwards, called on China’s government to clarify the allegation of torture and launch an investigation. “The absolute prohibition on relying on evidence obtained through torture or other ill-treatment in a trial is a fundamental safeguard,” she said on January 31.

“I am deeply concerned that evidence that is expected to be presented against Jimmy Lai imminently, may have been obtained as a result of torture or other unlawful treatment,” Ms Edwards said. “An investigation into these allegations must be conducted immediately, before any evidence is admitted into these present proceedings.”

The use of torture and other coercive techniques to force confessions is well documented in China, Ms Edwards said. She reminded China that it had ratified the UN Convention against Torture. The international legal team of the imprisoned democracy activist had lodged an urgent appeal with Ms Edwards at the beginning of January against one of the prosecution’s most important witnesses.

Mr Lai, 76, is the founder of the Apple Daily newspaper, which was shut down in 2021, and has been a campaigner for freedom of the press and freedom of expression in the Chinese Special Administrative Region of Hong Kong for decades. He was arrested in August 2020 and charged with sedition and collusion with foreign powers under the National Security Law.

If convicted, Mr Lai faces life imprisonment. In January, several UN experts called on the authorities in Hong Kong to drop all charges against Mr Lai and release him immediately.

His trial – which is expected to continue for months – is seen as a test of Hong Kong’s autonomy under a controversial national security law imposed by China in June 2020 to crush Hong Kong’s pro-democracy movement.


Evidence in Jimmy Lai trial may be obtained through torture: UN rapporteur (UCA News)