Banned books and other forms of censorship

On the banning of books, censorship and other freedom of access issues

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

China may end re-education prisons

China's parliament is considering legislation that would reform or end its re-education camp system, known as laogai, according to an article in today's (March 5) Los Angeles Times by Mark Magnier. The re-education camp system began 50 years ago, and has allowed police to "sentence petty criminals or anyone they consider troublemakers to as many as four years of incarceration without trial." It has been both an instrument of corrupt officials protecting themselves and as a method to quell dissent. Magnier says:

"Legal experts say draft reforms include reducing the maximum sentence to one year, better defining the appeal process, removing the high walls and electrified barriers often found around these facilities and placing greater emphasis on rehabilitation.

"Still lacking is any clear evidence the program will fall under judicial control."

Critics have also described this system as essentially unmonitored sweatshops, in which prison labor has become a major cog in China's economy and trade with other nations.

However, although the legislation is supported by some legal officials and experts in China, it is opposed by the Ministry of Public Security, so it may not be likely to see reform in this area anytime soon.

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