Will China’s Re-education through Labor Camp Be Abolished?
Meng Jianzhu, Politics and Law Committee Secretary
of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), made an announcement at the beginning of 2013.
Re-education through forced labor system will end.
Laogai, or labor camps, all over China alleged
that they still have not received any notice.
Experts say that there are different opinions at the
top levels of the CCP, as to whether to discontinue the re-education through forced labor system.
To date, many officials say that they have not
received internal notification regarding any changes
to the re-education through forced labor system.
On January 9 and 10, the CCP’s
Ministry of Justice held a meeting.
Although this subject was discussed, there
has not been any definitive news officially.
On January 7, Meng Jianzhu announced at a conference
that the central government sent its report to the Standing
Committee of the National People’s Congress (NPC).
This was to get approval that re-education
through forced labor will discontinue this year.
Subsequently, Xinhua also reported this
news. However, the report was soon deleted.
Mainland lawyer Tang Jingling points out that authorities
said they would discontinue the labor system this year.
That means a date of December 31
2013 still falls within this range.
Tang Jingling: “This news was not the formal adoption
of the bill, but that it would discontinue at a certain time.
This only means no more people
will be sent to the labor camps.
When the NPC convenes, they will reach a
resolution through the modification of the law.
My understanding is that they are just bringing up an
idea, but the policy has not been officially changed.”
Zhao Yuanming, an expert of Law in China,
thinks that there are still large differences
among high level officials on this issue.
Zhao Yuanming: “The infighting is still very intense.
In other words, some people do not agree with ending this system,
because they, use the system to attack dissidents and
people of different faiths, in addition to making profits.
For example, the Jiang Zemin faction is this way, therefore,
they are against abolition of the labor re-education system.”
Zhao Yuanming points out that if the re-education through
labor system discontinues, the CCP hidden crackdown on Falun Gong practitioners will be fully exposed.
Zhao Yuanming: “Now hundreds of thousands
of Falun Gong practitioners are detained in labor camps across the country.
It is not a question of implementing an
end to this system in one or two days.
It involves many issues. Besides, it has
to go through a formal legal procedure.”
Zhao says, that the system has been implemented
for 57 years, and has always been a direct violation of China’s own Constitution.”
Re-education through forced labor was introduced
in the former Soviet Union as a penalty for minors.
The CPC changed it into a penalty
for non-criminal behavior.
The labor camp system can also authorize police
to imprison people without trial, for up to 3-4 years.
Cao Shunli, law expert: “They don’t want to discontinue
the re-education through forced labor system.
They only want to change some parts of it,
which are just superficial changes for the public.
Modification of certain parts cannot change the
illegal nature of the system, or its effect on people.
Basically, this system is illegal.”
The United Nations Human Rights Council
reported last year that about 190,000 Chinese
people were detained in 320 labor camps.
Mainland media reported that the monthly average
value created by each inmate was 5,000 dollars.
But the prisoners earned practically nothing.
Zhao Yuanming: “In the last ten years, they have
used the labor camp system to suppress dissidents, petitioners, and people of different faiths.
They have indeed done a lot of bad things.
Through the labor camp process, many people have
suffered tremendously, both physically and mentally.
Many were tortured to the point of disability or even death.”
Cao Shunli was sentenced to a forced labor
camp for taking part in human rights activities.
She said she did not feel a sense of personal
reassurance when the CCP announced the abolishment of the labor camp system.
Cao Shunli: “If they want to find fault with
us, they don’t need the labor camp system.
This society is not based on the rule of law. The
rule of law has no dignity and no prestige here.
They do not act according to the law, and anyone
can be punished with other mean instead.”
Cao Shunli points out that if they abolish the re-education
through labor system, it only means injustice will reduce. Injustice itself will not end.