The decision on abolition of re-education through labor was adopted by Standing Committee of the National People's Congress on November 28, 2013.According to the decision, prior to the abolition the re-education through labor executed by law is still valid, while after abolition, the people subjected to re-education through labor would be relieved without any further execution. It means that, the re-education through labor system with more than half century history is officially abolished.
Re-education through Labor System is faced with “Imminent Death”
In November 2013, the Decision of the CPC Central Committee on Several Important Issues of Comprehensively Deepening Reform on Third Plenary Session of the 18th Central Committee of the Chinese Communist Party said, we shall abolish re-education through system, improve the law on punishment and correction of illegal and criminal activities, and develop the correction system of community.”
On December 28, 2013, Standing Committee of the National People's Congress officially adopted the decision on laws and regulations of abolition of re-education through labor, “First, to abolish the Resolution of Decision of the NPC Standing Committee on Approving Re-education through Labor Issues of the State Council and the Decision of the State Council on Re-education through Labor Issues adopted on the 78th meeting of the Standing Committee of the First National People's Congress on August 1, 1957. Second, to abolish the Resolution of the NPC Standing Committee of Supplementary Provisions on Approving Re-education through Labor Issues of the State Council and the Supplementary Provisions of the State Council on Re-education through Labor adopted on the 12th meeting of the Standing Committee of the Fifth National People's Congress on November 29, 1979. Third, prior to the abolition, the re-education through labor executed by law is still valid, while after abolition, the people subjected to re-education through labor would be relieved without any further execution. The decision comes into effect as of the day it is promulgated.”
On October 18, 2012, Wang Gongyi, the director of judicial institute of ministry of Justice said, the number of the people being subjected to re-education through labor exceeds 60 thousand. Since adoption of re-education through labor system, the number some time peaked at over 300 thousand, while at least there was still 5 thousand.
RTL, short for re-education through labor, refers to the combination of labor, education and cultivation. Re-education through labor system was introduced from the Soviet Union in Eastern Europe by People’s Republic of China, and then it developed to the system unique to China in the world. Re-education through labor is neither in accordance with legal regulations, nor criminal punishment in law. It is an administrative punishment according to the relevant regulations of the State Council on re-education through labor. Without court conviction, public security organ can lock the suspect in the re-education site with at most 4-year period’s executions involving limitation of individual freedom, forced labor and ideological education. Arbitrariness of the decision on re-education through labor, ambiguity of re-educated subject, and the increasing human rights violations such as overloaded labor and random extension of re-education time have caused wide concern for abolishing the re-education through labor. In recent years, the people subjected to the re-education through labor institution are mainly the petitioning people and dragsters.
Difference between “Re-education through Labor” and “Reform through Labor”
There are essential differences between re-education through labor and reform through labor. “Reform through labor”, aimed at criminal, refers to the criminal penalty execution that the criminal is locked up in jail or other sites, and reformed through productive labor, as well as ideological, cultural and technical education. While, “re-education through labor” refers to an administrative compulsory measure that the people who are not serious enough to warrant criminal penalty are sent to the sites such as re-education through labor station to receive compulsory education through labor. In detail, the differences are as following:
First, their nature is different. Reform through labor refers to criminal penalty aimed to criminal, while re-education through labor refers to an administrative compulsory measure aimed at the people who are not serious enough to warrant criminal penalty, equivalently the security measure for preventing the criminal abroad. Certainly, from the viewpoint of administrative punishment, re-education through labor is a kind of administrative punishment.
Second, their objectives are different. The subject of reform through labor is the criminal who warrants criminal penalty with violation of the Criminal Law. Therefore, it has dual objectives, both punishment and education. While the subject of re-education through labor is the law breaker, which mainly concerns contradictions among the people, therefore its objective is education and remedy.
Third, their applicable targets are different. The target of reform through labor is the criminal who violates the Criminal Law and is sentenced to criminal detention, fixed-term imprisonment, life imprisonment and death sentence with a reprieve. While, the target of re-education through labor is the law breaker who violates the Regulations on Administrative Penalties for Public Security and other laws and regulations, but not serious enough to warrant criminal penalty, such as the one who involved in criminal gang activities such as gang murder, robbery, rape and arson is not sentenced to criminal penalty; the incorrigible one who breaking law such as prostitution, theft and fraud is not sentenced to criminal penalty; and the one who making public disorder such as affray, causing and stirring up trouble is not sentenced to criminal penalty.
Forth, their applicable procedures are different. The execution for criminal’s reform through labor needs the sentence according to the relevant regulations of the Criminal Law and the Criminal Procedural Law. While, the execution for law breaker's re-education through labor is determined by the management committee of re-education though labor at provincial level, autonomous region, municipality and large and medium-sized city.
Fifth, their applicable sites are different. The sites for criminal’s reform through labor are mainly detention sites, detention house, juvenile reformatory, and prisons. The sites for law breaker’s re-education through labor are mainly management station and school for re-education through labor.
Sixth, their applicable duration is different. The duration for criminal’s reform through labor is from 1 month to life imprisonment, including the criminal who are sentenced to death sentence with a reprieve. While, the duration for law breaker’s re-education through labor is from 1 year to 3 years, and in the event of resistance behavior, the duration can be extended by 1 year.
Seventh, the legal consequences they may have are different. In the event that the target of reform through labor is the criminal who is sentenced to fixed-term imprisonment or above, after punishment has been performed or exemption, commits the crime and is again sentenced to fixed-term imprisonment or above within 5 years, equivalently recidivism, the criminal shall be given a sever punishment according to law; in the event that the criminal who jeopardizes national security, after punishment has been performed or exemption, commits the same crime at any future time, all equivalent to recidivism, shall be given a sever punishment. While in the event that the target of re-education through labor who commits the crime again at any future time will not have the consequence of being given a sever punishment.