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Addministrative regulations of 1986 and 1996 allow forced labor camps for re-education (laodong jiaoyang).




Based on administrative regulations of September 5, 1986 (revised May 12, 1995), offices of Public Security can impose the penalty of re-education in a forced labor camp. Imprisonment can be up to 4 years. The punishment of re-education through physical labor is not imposed by a criminal court, but by a Committee for Re-education or an Office of Public Security. Since this does not involve a proper legal procedure including a lawyer and a court of law, the measure is widely criticised by human rights organizations, both inside and outside of China.
According to a New York Times article in 2005, China currently has a vast system of 300 special prisons, with some 300,000 inmates, including petty criminals, drug users, prostitutes, and political prisoners. Currently, the majority of inmates are drug offenders (around 40%). Political prisoners constitute around 5 to 10 percent. The labor camps are a relic of the Mao era. They follow the communist ideology of "reform through labor re-education" and strip suspects of any legal rights. Essentially, these labor camps are a tool to maintain public security and quickly eliminate opponents of the political system. Reformers within China advocate the transformation of the "labor camp system" into a "misdemeanor system" based on proper legal procedures.



Yardley, Jim (2005): Issue in China: Many in jails without trial. In: New York Times, May 9

Tanner, Murray Scot (2006): Challenges to China’s Internal Security Strategy. Testimony presented to the US-China Economic and Security Review Commission on February 3, 2006. RAND Document CT-254


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