China abolishes reeducation labour camps
BEIJING (AP) - In a step toward rule of law, China's national legislature on Saturday voted to abolish a much-criticised penal system that allowed police to lock up people for up to four years without due process.
The standing committee of the National Peopleâ€™s Congress adopted a resolution to abolish the reeducation labour system, formalising a November decision by the ruling Chinese Communist Party, according to the official Xinhua News Agency and the state-run China Central Television.
State media said all those serving time in the labor camps will be set free starting Saturday, but the penalties handed out before the abolition should still be considered legitimate, a provision aimed at preventing the victims from suing the state and seeking redress.
Established to punish early critics of the Communist Party, the penal system was retooled to focus on petty criminals. In recent years, however, it had been used by local officials to deal with people challenging their authority on issues including land rights and corruption.