Prominent Chinese Experts Call for Abolishing Labor Re-Education System

December 7, 2007 Updated: December 7, 2007

BEIJING–Dozens of top scholars and legal experts in China sent an open letter to the State Department on December 4, calling on the Chinese Communist Party to abolish the re-education through forced labor system.

In an effort led by renowned legal scholar and economist Mao Yushi from Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, 43 scholars and legal experts co-signed the letter. The letter stated that the system is contrary to basic human rights and the Constitution because it deprived the accused of rights to a legal process, open trial, and appeal.

December 4 was the annual “Rule-of-Law Promotion Day” in China. “China Human Rights Guardians,” a non-governmental organization, has widely publicized this open letter.

Law professor He Weifang from Peking University, who was one of the signatories of the letter, told the Agence France-Presse, “The re-education through forced labor system has existed for over 50 years. However, it has become a serious impediment to legal reform in China. It runs against the values of the time.”

He said, “Basically, the system allows the police or the political leader to make a decision [on one's detention terms]. This is clearly against the constitution.”

He also said that besides violating the constitution, the labor re-education system is also contrary to other Chinese laws and international human rights agreements which China has agreed to implement.

Other famous signatories include Mr. Yu Meisun, former Secretary of the General Office at the State Department; Guo Shiyou, a professor at the Chinese University of Political Science and Law; and Zhang Ming, a legal scholar at the People's University.

The United Nations High Commission on Human Rights has frequently urged the Chinese government to abolish the re-education through labor system.