In March 2008, Liaoyuan municipality (Jilin province) began experimenting a measure aimed at reducing torture, known as the “counsel system” (巡视员制度). 20 “counselors” (巡视员) – chosen among legal scholars and physicians – carried out rounds of inspection in Liaoyuan municipality’s detention facilities.. This far, the team has interviewed a total of 32 detainees, and carried out 21 inspections in detention centres. Experiments will soon take place in Henan and Jiangxi provinces too. It is not known how many specific instances of torture were documented by the Liaoyuan team.
Counselors are chosen (选拔) by the public security bureau and the procuracy among delegates to local people’s congresses, political-consultative conferences and procuracies. Their nomination is approved by people’s congresses, political-consultative conferences and the procuracy. A “counsel office” (巡视员办公室) has been established within the local procuracy. While sending counselors on inspection tours of detention facilities may be a cheap and feasible option, they are clearly not independent. Also, one may wonder whether China’s adoption of the Instabul protocol wouldn’t make their job easier.