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November 18, 2013

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Labor camps to become rehabs

Institutions for reeducation through labor are seeking new roles after the decision to abolish them.

In the Xishuangbanna Dai Autonomous Prefecture of southwest China’s Yunnan Province, the former labor camp will be transformed into a drug rehab center.

The key policy document of the Communist Party of China published on Friday said China will abolish the “reeducation through labor” system as part of a major effort to protect human rights. The controversial correction system, commonly known as “laojiao,” began in the 1950s. The program usually takes in minor offenders whose offences are not severe enough to take them to court.

Currently a “laojiao” committee consists of government departments such as police, civil affairs and education departments. It can detain people for up to four years without an open trial.

Although the system is to be abolished, the future role of “laojiao” facilities and what will happen to their personnel remain uncertain.

“The key to the functional changing of the former ‘laojiao’ sites is to advocate a greater role for the local society, based on the existing infrastructure,” said Kong Shuhua, director of Xishuangbanna’s Justice Bureau.

The area borders Myanmar and Laos and is very close to one of the major drug sources in the world, the Golden Triangle. Rehabilitation and further medical and psychological help have become a major part of drug control work there.

“The new rehab center will provide compulsory drug rehabilitation treatment for addicts, and help them find self confidence again,” Kong said.



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