Former prisoner welcomes China labor 're-education' camp reform
By Neil Connor, AFPBEIJING--A Chinese man who served two years in a hard labor camp for mocking a crime crackdown by disgraced former politician Bo Xilai welcomed proposed changes to the “re-education” system on Tuesday.
January 9, 2013, 12:09 am TWN
Peng Hong said he was encouraged by reports that China would reform the long-criticized system, in which people can be sentenced to up to four years of re-education by a police panel without even having a chance to put their case.
“I think there should be a trial procedure before a person is given labor education punishment,” he told AFP in his first interview with foreign media.
“It shouldn't be as before, when a person's freedom could be restricted for four years by a committee connected to the police without any trial.”
Peng was sent to the camp near his home town of Chongqing in September 2009.
He had re-posted a political cartoon mocking a crime crackdown launched in the southwestern city by Bo, its then-party chief since toppled by a murder and corruption scandal, and his now-imprisoned head of police Wang Lijun.
On Monday the official microblog of the CCTV state news channel quoted Meng Jianzhu, a member of the powerful 25-strong Politburo who oversees politics and legal affairs, as saying that China would stop using the system.
The reports were quickly deleted, but on Tuesday state-run media said changes would be made. “The government will push reforms of the system this year,” said the China Daily, without giving details.
Most of those condemned to the camps, where they perform manual labor such as farm or factory work, are accused of petty offences, although no criminal conviction is necessary.