News / Asia

Rights Group: China Replacing Labor Camps With 'Black Jails'

Members of Falun Gong hold portraits of victims  during a protest against what they say is the Chinese government's policy of harassment and torture of its members in China, July 22, 2012, in Taipei, Taiwan.
Members of Falun Gong hold portraits of victims during a protest against what they say is the Chinese government's policy of harassment and torture of its members in China, July 22, 2012, in Taipei, Taiwan.
TEXT SIZE - +
Shannon Van Sant
— Earlier this year, China announced it would close the country’s labor camps, overturning a law that had been in place for more than 50 years. However rights group Amnesty International alleges that the labor camp system has merely been replaced by other detention centers that continue to wrongfully imprison political and religious dissidents.

Since the announcement, Amnesty International reports that authorities are silencing increasing numbers of petitioners, political dissidents and members of the Falun Gong through black jails and drug rehabilitation centers.

“The individuals who were sent to those camps are being increasingly sent to black jails for instance, undocumented and unofficial detention facilities,” said Roseann Rife, East Asia Research Director for Amnesty International.
 
China’s Foreign Ministry denies this is happening and questions the veracity of Amnesty International’s reports.
 
When asked about Amnesty International’s press release, spokesperson Hua Chunying says that the organization has always had a prejudice against China and makes many irresponsible remarks.

China’s re-education through labor law was instituted in 1957, and China said it had 350 labor camps across the country with as many as 160,000 inmates. Last month China vowed to close those camps as part of a series of reforms unveiled at the conclusion of China’s Third Plenum.
 
However Amnesty International conducted more than 60 interviews with former inmates, their family members and lawyers, and concluded that some labor camps have changed in name only. Researchers say that many camps have turned into compulsory drug rehabilitation centers where drug offenders are forced to do factory work. Amnesty reports it has also documented increasing numbers of people declared insane and detained illegally in China’s mental hospitals.
 
In recent years detainees described mistreatment at China’s labor camps, including beatings with electric batons, rack torture, denial of food and forced injections with unknown drugs.
 
Amnesty International's Rife says that torture continues in the extra judicial places of detention.
 
“Torture is a problem in detention facilities, and we’ve seen a lot of talk about reform and new regulations to try and address it.  But unless we start to see the ability for these cases to be heard in court for the perpetrators of the torture and mistreatment to be prosecuted, then its unlikely we’ll see the impact that even the Chinese authorities are trying to accomplish,” she said.
 
China has not announced what will happen to current labor camp prisoners and what systems will officially replace the re-education through labor system.  Rife says this needs to be made clear
 
“Is there a formal plan for closing these camps and what replaces them?  And what exactly is the legal status for the people who have been released or are still in the camps?”asks Rife.
 
In addition to clarifying details of its plans to close the country’s labor camps, Amnesty International says China should address the underlying problem - persecuting people for exercising their political and religious beliefs and end arbitrary detention entirely.

You May Like

Multimedia Anti-Keystone XL Protests Continue

Demonstrators are worried about pipeline's effect on climate change, their traditional way of life, health and safety More

Thailand's Political Power Struggle Continues

Court gave Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra until May 2 to prepare her defense over abuse of power charges but uncertainty remains over election timing More

Malaysia Plane Search Tests Limits of Ocean Mapping Technology

Expert tells VOA existing equipment’s maximum operating depth is around 6 kilometers as operation continues on ocean bed for any trace of MH370 More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Wangchuk from: NYC
December 19, 2013 9:56 AM
Did anyone really think China would illeminate detention camps for dissidents just b/c they ended the RTL laws? That was done to appease domestic/int'l critics. But the PRC police continue detaining Chinese, Uighurs & Tibetans illegally. The CCP does not believe its citizens deserve human rights so they just ignore the law & the Constitution. You won't see reform & improvement in Chinese human rights until the CCP dictatorship is gone from power.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Messagei
X
Penelope Poulou
April 22, 2014 5:53 PM
Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Message

Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pro-Russian Separatists Plan 'Federalization Referendum' in Eastern Ukraine

Pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine say they plan to move forward next month with a referendum vote for greater autonomy, despite the Geneva agreement reached with Russia, the U.S. and Ukraine to end the political conflict. VOA's Brian Padden reports from the city of Donetsk in Eastern Ukraine.
Video

Video Pope Francis Hopes Dual Canonizations Will Reconcile Church

On April 27, two popes - John the XXIII and John Paul II - will be made saints in a ceremony at St. Peter’s Square. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky says the dual canonization is part of the current pope’s program to reconcile liberals and conservatives in the Roman Catholic Church.
Video

Video In Capturing Nature's Majesty, Film Makes Case for Its Survival

French filmmaker Luc Jacquet won worldwide acclaim for his 2005 Academy Award-winning documentary "March of the Penguins". Now Jacquet is back with a new film that takes movie-goers deep into the heart of a tropical rainforest - not only to celebrate its grandeur, but to make the case for its survival. VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Boston Marathon Bittersweet for Many Runners

Monday's running of the Boston Marathon was bittersweet for many of the 36,000 participants as they finished the run that was interrupted by a double bombing last year. Many gathered along the route paid respect to the four people killed as a result of two bombings near the finish line. VOA's Carolyn Presutti returned to Boston this year to follow two runners, forever changed because of the crimes.
Video

Video International Students Learn Film Production in World's Movie Capital

Hollywood - which is part of Los Angeles - is the movie capital of the world, and many aspiring filmmakers go there in hopes of breaking into the movie business. Mike O'Sullivan reports that regional universities are also a magnet for students who hope to become producers or directors.
Video

Video Pacific Rim Trade Deal Proves Elusive

With the U.S.-led war in Iraq ended and American military involvement in Afghanistan winding down, President Barack Obama has sought to pivot the country's foreign policy focus towards Asia. One aspect of that pivot is the negotiation of a free-trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim nations. But as Obama leaves this week on a trip to four Asian countries he has found it very difficult to complete the trade pact. VOA's Ken Bredemeier has more from Washington.
Video

Video Autistic Adults Face Housing, Job Challenges

Many parents of children with disabilities fear for the future of their adult child. It can be difficult to find services to help adults with disabilities - physical, mental or emotional - find work or live on their own. The mother of an autistic boy set up a foundation to advocate for the estimated 1.2 million American adults with autism, a developmental disorder that causes communication difficulties and often social difficulties. VOA's Faiza Elmasry reports.
AppleAndroid