March 5, 2007
Reforms in the offing for re-education through labor?
Here's an interesting article by Mark Magnier of the L.A. Times suggesting that reforms may be enacted in this month's NPC session. The article cites among other things an editorial from the China Daily earlier this month that refers to the system as a "legal black hole."
Some are worried that abolition of re-education through labor will just mean that people end up in the formal criminal justice system with heavier punishments. For various reasons, I don't find this especially plausible. Among other things, although courts and police are, politically speaking, under common leadership, having police decisions reviewed by courts is still not the same as having them reviewed by nobody. One very real danger of getting rid of re-education through labor without parallel reforms elsewhere in the system, however, is that arbitrary detention will just resurface in those unreformed areas: in this case, in the unregulated system of detention for alleged mental illness, already ably written about by Robin Munro.