While the ruling Chinese Communist Party abolished its controversial “re-education through labor” camp-based punishment system at the end of last year, a similar system remains in place under another name, according to a letter signed by dozens of prominent legal experts.
The lawyers are calling for the abolition of the police-run “custody and education” system, which they say resembles the “re-education through labor” system in all but name, and has no basis in Chinese law.
“The custody and education system was set up under [administrative] regulations banning prostitution,” the Beijing Express newspaper quoted the letter as saying.
The letter says the entire system of 200 re-education facilities has no basis in Chinese law, which forbids the state to deprive citizens of their freedom without any basis in legislation.
The first custody and re-education facilities began to be built in 2002, in line with a 1993 directive from China’s cabinet, the State Council, which ordered that those found engaging in sex work should be given “legal and moral” education, subjected to tests for sexually transmitted diseases and organized to take part in productive work.
Violation of rights
According to U.S.-based rights activist Liu Qing, such facilities are a blatant violation of the rights of Chinese citizens.
“The Chinese Communist Party has a lot of methods by which it exerts its rule of terror,” Liu said. “These methods don’t require any kind of judicial procedures, and the police can do whatever they like.”
“Custody and education is just one of a plethora of ways in which the Chinese government takes away people’s freedom and tramples on their rights,” he said.