Chinese Law Prof Blog

Editor: Donald C. Clarke
George Washington University Law School

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Lawyers complain about re-education through labor

Here's a report (in Chinese) about an open letter submitted by ten lawyers to the Ministry of Justice and the Ministry of Public Security proposing changes in the system of Re-education Through Labor (劳动教养) (RETL). This follows on the heels of the Tang Hui incident, where a woman was sentenced to RETL for petitioning too persistently about the case of her daughter, who at age 11 had been kidnapped, raped, and forced into prostitution. (She felt the perpetrators, with police collusion, had been inadequately punished.) After her case was publicized, she was released following an online outcry. (Post hoc ergo propter hoc? You be the judge.)

In the Sun Zhigang case, after the death of a young man in a Custody and Repatriation center in 2003, three young legal scholars famously wrote to the National People's Congress urging that the long-controversial system of C&R be abolished for unconstitutionality. It was indeed abolished (although not necessarily as a direct result) shortly afterwards. Could Tang Hui be the Sun Zhigang of RETL? Or does someone need to actually die in this system first?

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