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Behind China’s use of interrogation chamber tech

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Chinese state-owned video surveillance company Hikvision provides a custom interrogation solution to law enforcement in China. The interrogation console integrates with tiger chairs and metallic restraints.

As reported by IPVM, the Interrogation Console is an NVR that has been customized with a screen, hard drive space, and a CD burner. Hikvision has a promo video showing how the set up works.

The video shows a detainee strapped to a tiger chair while being filmed by Hikvision cameras from different angles that are connected to the Interrogation Console. The interrogation is transcribed on a separate computer running Interrogation Monitoring Management System, a custom interrogation VMS developed by Hikvision.

Related: The West is embracing a Chinese company that surveils Uyghur camps

On a monitor, the detainee is shown evidence the police have.

After the interrogation is finished, the console ejects a DVD of the interrogation, and the suspect is given the transcript to sign. The transcripts and accompanying DVD are likely submitted in court as evidence.

The console’s manual indicates that it records vitals, like blood pressure, heart rate, and oxygen levels.

According to IPVM, the Interrogation Console is part of a wider Hikvision solution used in prisons called the Hikvision Smart Judicial Police Practical Combat System Solution.

The automatic printing of transcripts of the interrogation raises forced confessions concerns for rights groups like Amnesty International.

“For the police, obtaining a confession is still the easiest way to secure a conviction. Until lawyers are allowed to do their jobs without fear of reprisals, torture will remain rampant in China” said Patrick Poon, a Chinese researcher at Amnesty International.

China does not give suspects the right to legal representation during interrogations. It had a conviction rate of 99.96% in 2019.

The console’s integration with tiger chairs is also cause for concern. According to NGO Safeguard Defenders, the chairs are painful and are “designed to restrain the body in an unnatural position […] it has a slow but very efficient way to weaken your body over longer periods of time.”

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