While China’s central government identified the abolition of its re-education through labor system as a major reform priority, commentators have noted that many camps have merely been rebranded as drug rehabilitation centers while continuing to operate as they have since 1957. Reuters looks at a recent report from Amnesty International claiming that, despite the announced abolition of the re-education through labor system, China is increasingly using extra-legal forms of detention and forced labor to punish dissent:
China is increasingly using extra-judicial “black jails” and drug rehabilitation centers to punish people who would formerly have been sent to forced labor camps, rights group Amnesty International said on Tuesday.
[…] “It’s clear that the underlying policies of punishing people for their political activities or religious beliefs haven’t changed,” said Corinna-Barbara Francis, Amnesty’s China researcher.
“The abuses and torture are continuing, just in a different way.”
China’s foreign ministry said on Tuesday that Amnesty is prejudiced against China.
[…] Amnesty, in a report based on more than 60 interviews with families, lawyers and former inmates conducted over five years, found the use of other forms of extra-judicial detention, especially drug rehab facilities, had widened and could supplant the labor camp system. [Source]
More on Amnesty’s warning that China can be expected to replace the controversial system with similar institutions from CNN, along with an interview with Amnesty’s East Asia Research Director:
The human rights group says that while labor camps are being shut, research suggested that authorities are expanding the use of “black jails,” enforced drug rehabilitation clinics and “brainwashing centers” to take their place.
“There is a very real risk that the Chinese authorities will abolish one system of arbitrary detention only to expand the use of other types,” the report said.
Also see Amnesty International’s full report “Changing the Soup but not the Medicine: Abolishing Re-education Through Labour in China,” or its accompanying press release. For more on legal reform, black jails, or re-education through labor, see prior CDT coverage.