Posted by Joel Martinsen on Wednesday, December 5, 2007 at 2:34 PM
Drug offenders undergoing re-education through labor
Sixty-nine legal scholars and lawyers led by Mao Yushi and He Weifang have sent a letter to the NPC Standing Committee and the Legal Affairs Office of the State Council urging the state to eliminate the practice of re-education through labor.
The system of administrative detention, established in 1957, gives the police the discretion to detain people for crimes that might not merit criminal punishment. Because the practice exists outside of the normal criminal justice system, the letter-writers claim that it violates article 37 of the constitution (the "freedom of person" guarantee), contradicts laws on criminal justice passed in 1996 and 2000, and violates international treaties on human rights, to which China is a signatory.
The letter also argues from a more pragmatic perspective that re-education through labor is simply bad policy:
A court in Henan recently accepted a suit by a rural resident who also says that the re-education through labor system is illegal.
Chen Chao, a resident of Yichuan, Henan, was the member of a local gang that demanded protection fees from local residents. On 30 December, 2006, the gang got involved in a quarrel with another individual and smashed up his van. Chen was eventually arrested on 26 July this year. But at the end of August, he was set free for want of evidence.
In September, Chen was ordered to undergo two years of re-education through labor by the Luoyang branch of the system. Chen recruited a lawyer and sued.
The Mirror, which reported on the situation when Chen's suit was accepted by the court last month, spoke to one of the judges in the Luoyang Court. Hao Yali, a the vice-director of the court, has a master's degree in law:
Also, from The Toronto Star, "Forced labor protest backfires":
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