Sun, Nov 17, 2013 - Page 6 News List

China to ease one-child policy, end labor camps

‘POSITIVE STEP’:The one-child limit will be lifted for families in which at least one parent is an only child, which is meant in part to address aging demographics

AP, BEIJING

Last year, a government think tank urged China’s leaders to start phasing out the policy and allow two children for every family by 2015, saying that the country had paid a “huge political and social cost.”

The China Development Research Foundation said that the policy had resulted in social conflict and high administrative costs, and led indirectly to a long-term gender imbalance because of illegal abortions of female fetuses and the infanticide of baby girls by parents who cling to a traditional preference for a son.

The party also announced it would abolish a labor camp system that allowed police to lock up government critics and other defendants for up to four years without trial. It confirmed a development that had been reportedly announced by the top law enforcement official earlier this year, but was later retracted.

Also known as “re-education through labor,” the system was established to punish early critics of the CCP, but has been used by local officials to deal with people challenging their authority on issues, including land rights and corruption.

Pu Zhiqiang (浦志強), a prominent Beijing lawyer who has represented several former labor camp detainees in seeking compensation, welcomed the abolition of the extra-legal system.

“There have been many methods used recently by this government that are against the rule of law, and do not respect human rights, or freedom of speech,” Pu said. “But by abolishing the labor camps ... it makes it much harder for the police to put these people they clamp down on into labor camps.”

“This is progress,” Pu said.

Earlier this year, state broadcaster CCTV said China has 310 labor camps holding about 310,000 prisoners and employing 100,000 staff, although some estimates range higher.

The party report also promised to improve the judicial system and help farmers become city residents. It also elaborated on the party’s previous announcement that it would set up a national security commission.

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