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China Daily Website

Lawmakers near to ending laojiao

Updated: 2013-12-24 01:18
By ZHAO YINAN ( China Daily)

Chinese lawmakers have embarked on the final stage in the process to scrap the system of laojiao — or re-education through labor.

On Monday, lawmakers began to read the State Council’s motion to abolish the system, which was introduced in the 1950s.

Yang Huanning, vice-minister of public security, explained the State Council’s proposal to lawmakers during their bimonthly session, which will continue through Saturday. The proposal suggests invalidating the two decisions on the use of laojiao approved by the National People’s Congress Standing Committee in 1957 and 1979.

The NPC Standing Committee will vote on the proposal as early as Saturday, which, if passed, will mark the end of the half-century old system.

Abolishing laojiao was first raised by the government in March, when newly elected Premier Li Keqiang promised to end the use of the system within the year. Then, the recently concluded Third Plenary Session of the 18th Central Committee of the Communist Party of China further elaborated on reforming the penalty in a plan released after the meeting.

Laojiao aims to transform offenders through compulsory education and labor into people who "obey the law, respect public virtue, love the country and labor, and possess a certain extent of education and productive skills". A sentence can range from one to three years, with the possibility of a one-year extension.

Inmates, mostly drug addicts undergoing treatment or people who have committed offenses that don’t constitute a crime, do not need to go through an open court proceeding before being sentenced, which has aroused wide speculation on the legitimacy of the system.

Yang said on Monday it is time to discuss the abolition of laojiao, since alternative measures to treat these inmates have been set up in China.

"If the NPC Standing Committee approves the proposal, the government will then release inmates who are still serving a laojiao sentence and reassign laojiao officers to other positions," he said.

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