China accused Amnesty International yesterday of trying to defame it with a recent report on widespread illegal detention and torture in the country. ``That Amnesty International looks at China through colored spectacles or with prejudices is shown by many facts,'' said a Foreign Ministry spokesman, declining to elaborate.
The motive of the London-based group ``is to attack China, to accuse China, by quoting these incidents,'' he said.
The human rights group reported on Sept. 7 that maltreatment and torture of prisoners persists throughout China and that police and Communist Party officials have frustrated government attempts to halt the abuse.
Amnesty said most victims are criminal suspects and ``their torturers are usually police officers or Communist Party officials or members of the many informal security units who illegally detain individuals they suspect of committing crimes.''
The report was based primarily on incidents publicized by the Chinese press. The day it was released, the overseas edition of the party newspaper People's Daily reported that human rights violations in the first six months of 1987 increased by 13 percent over the same period last year - to more than 2,000 cases.
The denunciation of Amnesty highlights the sensitivity of China to external criticism of its human rights record and efforts at legal reform.
China began reforming its criminal code in 1980. It has started to codify the treatment of criminal suspects from arrest, through detention, to trial and imprisonment.
Although ``China has been very successful in getting acceptable codes on the books, it probably won't get them implemented in the autonomous regions and nationwide for a long time to come,'' a Western diplomat said. He added that even the new codes offer officials loopholes for abuse of suspects in the name of maintaining ``social order.''
Amnesty called for further reforms that would limit the time a prisoner can be held incommunicado and ensure that a suspect will appear promptly before a judge.
The group, citing accounts of former prisoners, their relatives and other non-official sources as well as Chinese newspapers, noted that prisoners have been held in solitary confinement in minute cells with no contact with other inmates or their families. Some have gone insane as a result, it said.
Amnesty reported that it had no figures on the number of people tortured in prisons or detention centers in China. Chinese officials have declined to disclose how many police, party members, or other security officials have been arrested or imprisoned because of detainee maltreatment. However, the Amnesty report quoted China's chief prosecutor as stating publicly last April that his department had investigated 32,000 ``legal-disciplinary'' cases in 1986.
The group praised Peking for disclosing the abuses in official publications in the last two years.
``The publicity recently may be an effort to prepare people for the coming party congress [due to start Oct. 25] - to show people what a good job they've been doing in identifying these cases,'' the diplomat said.