News / Asia

Chinese Official Says Labor Camps to be Scrapped this Year

Chinese dissidents Yu Dongyue (L) and Lu Decheng walk through the Laogai Museum, which documents China's forced labor camp system, in Washington, June 2, 2009.
Chinese dissidents Yu Dongyue (L) and Lu Decheng walk through the Laogai Museum, which documents China's forced labor camp system, in Washington, June 2, 2009.
Chinese state media have quoted a senior official as saying Beijing has decided to scrap its decades-old system of detaining people in forced labor camps - a practice long criticized by rights groups. 
 
In a brief report Monday, television network CCTV's microblog quoted Politburo member Meng Jianzhu as saying China will stop using the "re-education through labor" system this year, after the nation's rubber-stamp parliament approves the decision.  It said Meng made the comment earlier in the day at a meeting of the political and legal department that he heads.
 
China's official Xinhua news agency re-published the CCTV report before it was removed from both the Xinhua and CCTV websites several hours later without explanation.  Chinese authorities often order the removal of Internet content that they fear could encourage dissent against the government. 
 
Screen grab of CCTV microblog post on January 7, 2013. The post was later removed from the website.Screen grab of CCTV microblog post on January 7, 2013. The post was later removed from the website.
x
Screen grab of CCTV microblog post on January 7, 2013. The post was later removed from the website.
Screen grab of CCTV microblog post on January 7, 2013. The post was later removed from the website.
Xinhua later published a report saying the Chinese government is committed to "reforming" the labor camp system this year under the leadership of its new Communist Party chief Xi Jinping.  No other details were provided. 
 
London-based rights group Amnesty International said the scrapping of Chinese labor camps would be a "step in the right direction."  But the group's East Asia analyst Roseann Rife said Beijing should provide more detail about the reforms and open them to public debate. 
 
"The danger is the authorities' rhetoric creates a veneer of reform without the reality changing for hundreds of thousands of people detained in such facilities, nor is it clear that any new system will meet international standards," she said. 
 
Xinhua said China had 350 labor camps housing 160,000 detainees in 2008.  Chinese authorities use the camps to detain prostitutes, drug addicts and other petty criminals for up to four years without putting them on trial in the country's overloaded courts.  Opponents of the system say Beijing also uses it to silence government critics and dissidents. 
 
Amnesty said China's labor camps subject people to "endemic" torture and ill-treatment and should be abolished.  It said detainees who suffered abuse also should be provided with a "genuine chance for redress."
 
In its report Monday, Xinhua acknowledged growing public criticism of the labor camps.  It cited two recent cases in which authorities apparently abused the system to lock up a village official who criticized the government and a woman who demanded tougher penalties for the men convicted of raping her 11-year old daughter. 
 
Xinhua also said "leading experts" believe the labor camps contradict high-level laws, including China's constitution."
 
Xu Lu of VOA's Mandarin service contributed to this report.

Michael Lipin

Michael covers international news for VOA on the web, radio and TV, specializing in the Middle East and East Asia Pacific. Follow him on Twitter @Michael_Lipin

You May Like

Multimedia Social Media Documenting, Not Driving, Hong Kong Protests

Unlike in Arab Spring uprisings, pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong aren't relying on Twitter and Facebook to organize, but social media still plays a role More

Analysis: Occupy Central Not Exactly Hong Kong’s Tiananmen

VOA's former Hong Kong, Beijing correspondent compares and contrasts 1989 Tiananmen Square protest with what is now happening in Hong Kong More

Bambari Hospital a Lone Place of Help in Violence-Plagued CAR

Only establishment still functioning in CAR's second city is main hospital More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Anonymous
January 07, 2013 10:28 PM
great! a big progress in human rights

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
The Legacy of Jimmy Carter: The Preacher from Plainsi
X
October 01, 2014 10:45 AM
It is common in the United States to see tourists flock to sites associated with America's presidents. Some are privately owned and others are run by the National Park Service or the National Archives -- but most have helped draw business and people into the towns and cities where they are located. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there is one particular presidential hometown that is unique in what it has to offer those who make the trip.
Video

Video The Legacy of Jimmy Carter: The Preacher from Plains

It is common in the United States to see tourists flock to sites associated with America's presidents. Some are privately owned and others are run by the National Park Service or the National Archives -- but most have helped draw business and people into the towns and cities where they are located. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there is one particular presidential hometown that is unique in what it has to offer those who make the trip.
Video

Video Hong Kong Protests Draw New Supporters on National Holiday

On the 65th anniversary of the founding of Communist China, Hong Kong protesters are hoping to stage the largest pro-democracy demonstration since the 1989 Tiananmen protests. VOA's Brian Padden visited one of the protest sites mid-day, when the atmosphere was calm and where the supporters were enthusiastic about joining what they are calling the umbrella revolution.
Video

Video India's PM Continues First US Visit

India's prime minister is on his first visit to Washington, to strengthen political and economic ties between the world's oldest and the world biggest democracies. He came to the U.S. capital from New York, the first stop on his five-day visit to the country that denied him an entry visa in the past. From Washington, Zlatica Hoke reports Modi seemed most focused on attracting foreign investment and trade to increase job opportunities for his people.
Video

Video Malaysia Struggles to Stop People Joining Jihad

Malaysian authorities say militant groups like the so-called "Islamic State" have used social media to entice at least three dozen Malaysian Muslims to fight in what they call "jihad" in Syria and Iraq. As Mahi Ramkrishnan reports from Kuala Lumpur, counterterrorism police are deeply worried about what could happen when these militants return home.
Video

Video Could US Have Done More to Stop Rise of Islamic State?

President Obama says airstrikes against Islamic State militants in Syria will likely continue for some time because, in his words, "there is a cancer that has grown for too long." So what if President Obama had acted sooner in Syria to arm more-moderate opponents of both the Islamic State and the Syrian government? VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports from the United Nations.
Video

Video Treasure Hunters Seek 'Hidden Treasure' in Central Kenya

Could a cave in a small village in central Kenya be the site of buried treasure? A rumor of riches, left behind by colonialists, has some residents dreaming of wealth, while others see it as a dangerous hoax. VOA's Gabe Joselow has the story.
Video

Video Ebola Patients Find No Treatment at Sierra Leone Holding Center

At a holding facility in Makeni, central Sierra Leone, dozens of sick people sit on the floor in an empty university building. They wait in filthy conditions. It's a 16-hour drive by ambulance to Kailahun Ebola treatment center. Adam Bailes was there and reports on what he says are some of the worst situations he has seen since the beginning of this Ebola outbreak. And he says it appears case numbers may already be far worse than authorities acknowledge.
Video

Video Identifying Bodies Found in Texas Border Region

Thousands of immigrants have died after crossing the border from Mexico into remote areas of the southwestern United States in recent years. Local officials in south Texas alone have found hundreds of unidentified bodies and buried them in mass graves in local cemeteries. Now an anthropologist and her students at Baylor University have been exhuming bodies and looking for clues to identify them. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from Waco, Texas.
Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.

AppleAndroid