There is reason for doubt about Beijing's commitment towards reforms
China announces abolition of labor camps:
The Society for Threatened Peoples (STP) expresses skepticism about China's plans to abolish labor camps and reeducation camps. "China's government is a world champion in announcing intentions, but shows no real commitment towards a consistent human rights policy", said the STP's expert on questions regarding Asia, Ulrich Delius, in Göttingen on Tuesday. "Thus, there are still cases of illegal torture in police stations, insubordinate petitioners who get locked away in secret prisons and Falun Gong members who get killed while being held in custody by the security forces – although there have been several officials statements promising an end to the human right violations. Unfortunately, China's decrees are not worth the paper on which they are printed as long as the local authorities continue to ignore them and as long as citizens have no possibility to claim their rights."
On Monday, the Chairman of the "Central Politics and Law Commission", Meng Jianzhu, had informed Chinese journalists that reeducation through labor is to be abolished in 2013. This would mean that China is preparing to put an end to a decade-long practice of arbitrary detentions in labor and reeducation camps.
"China's labor camps are anachronistic and a clear sign for an arbitrary state that tramples on citizens' rights," said Delius. Neither are there any official internment-regulations, nor can inmates rely on their fundamental rights to be respected or on being released after the maximum sentence of three years. Often, the warrants of arrest are arbitrarily issued by local authorities. Insubordinate petitioners and Falun Gong practitioners are especially at risk.
Since the meditation movement was banned in July 1999, tens of thousands of Falun Gong practitioners have been sent to reeducation camps, where torture and violence became part of their daily lives. The camp administration encourages other inmates to attack them by promising rewards. More than 3,000 Falun Gong practitioners have already died due to torture and abuse in the camps. The inmates are also forced to work in the camps or as temporary workers for the Western export-markets, producing trousers, wigs and Christmas decorations. Many Falun Gong practitioners have been locked up in the camps longer than the maximum sentence of three years.