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Will China Close Labor Camps?

By January 8, 2013

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If one offical's proposal is passed, China's labor prison camps may be a thing of the past, according to CNN.

Meng Jianzhu, secretary of the Chinese Communist Party's Central Politics and Law Commission, putforth the proposal at a conference on Mondayand it was publicized on CCTV's Sina Weibo microblog. The post was later taken down and Xinhua, the national news agency, clarified its earlier report of the camps' abolition by saying they would be reformed.

The arguably outdated camps were started in the 1950s as a way to punish those who committed petty crimes and maintain social order. Over the years, dissidents have also been sent to the camps to do hard labor.

"The system was designed to maintain social order, prevent and reduce crimes by reforming people who committed minor offenses but were not punishable by the penal code," said an October Xinhua editorial according to CN. "It did play an important role in maintaining social order in specific periods, however, with the development of society and the legal system, its defects have become more and more evident."

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