Sat07262014

LAST_UPDATESat, 26 Jul 2014 12am

Attorney-General And MH17 Investigation Officers Leave For Netherlands

Attorney-General And MH17 Investigation Officers Leave For Netherlands

KUALA LUMPUR— Attorn...

Citing Gaza Bombings, Jakim Urges Muslims To Unite For Malaysia’s Peace

Citing Gaza Bombings, Jakim Urges Muslims To Unite For Malaysia’s Peace

KUALA LUMPUR— Muslim...

Singapore Daily Raps Malaysia For Vehicle Entry Fee, But Defends Republic’s Own Hike

Singapore Daily Raps Malaysia For Vehicle Entry Fee, But Defends Republic’s Own Hike

KUALA LUMPUR--Singap...

Hindu Mother Wins Leave To Force IGP To Retrieve Child From Muslim Ex-Spouse

Hindu Mother Wins Leave To Force IGP To Retrieve Child From Muslim Ex-Spouse

KUALA LUMPUR— The Ip...

Malacca SPAD Issues 15 Additional Bus Permit For Aidilfitri

Malacca SPAD Issues 15 Additional Bus Permit For Aidilfitri

MALACCA: The Land Pu...

Israel Rallies Behind Army In Gaza War

Israel Rallies Behind Army In Gaza War

KFAR AZAR— When 20-y...

UN’s Ban Urges Gaza ‘Humanitarian Pause’ For Muslim Holiday

UN’s Ban Urges Gaza ‘Humanitarian Pause’ For Muslim Holiday

CAIRO— UN chief Ban ...

Air Crashes Set Year On Course To Be Deadliest Since 2005

Air Crashes Set Year On Course To Be Deadliest Since 2005

NEW YORK: Three fata...

Iran Detains Four Journalists, Three Of Them Iranian-American

Iran Detains Four Journalists, Three Of Them Iranian-American

ANKARA: The Committe...

Islamic State Tells Iraqi Women: Wear Veil Or Face Harsh Punishment

Islamic State Tells Iraqi Women: Wear Veil Or Face Harsh Punishment

BAGHDAD: Islamic Sta...

Cash Shuffling Strengthens Murdoch Bid For Time Warner

Cash Shuffling Strengthens Murdoch Bid For Time Warner

LONDON: Britain’s BS...

Ikea Bank Rewards Frugal Savers In Mobile Game

Ikea Bank Rewards Frugal Savers In Mobile Game

STOCKHOLM: Ikea bill...

Top 10 London Biz Restaurants

Top 10 London Biz Restaurants

LONDON: What makes a...

Mcdonald’s Headache In Japan, Russia

Mcdonald’s Headache In Japan, Russia

TOKYO: McDonald’s Ja...

Indonesia May Raise Fuel Prices Before October

Indonesia May Raise Fuel Prices Before October

JAKARTA :Indonesia’s...

'Crossroads' Launched A Generation Of Hollywood Superstars

'Crossroads' Launched A Generation Of Hollywood Superstars

When the much-antici...

The Biggest Thing Standing Between You and Success

The Biggest Thing Standing Between You and Success

HENRY Ford got it ab...

What Old People Can Learn From Millennials

What Old People Can Learn From Millennials

"I feel like my enti...

13 Insanely Simple Ways To Make People Like You

13 Insanely Simple Ways To Make People Like You

IT can take as littl...

Are We Alone? Alien Pollution Might Reveal The Answer

Are We Alone? Alien Pollution Might Reveal The Answer

Earthlings often won...

BEIJING: China will stop handing down labor camp sentences this year under a system that allowed police to lock up government critics and other defendants for up to four years without trial, the country's top law enforcement official said Monday.

The move would be a key step in reforming China's judicial system, though details remained unclear, including what would become of existing "reeducation through labor" camps and their current inmates and whether this presages a new system involving court hearings before defendants can be sent to such facilities.

The comments by Communist Party Politics and Law Committee head Meng Jianzhu were not officially announced, but were reported by Chen Dongsheng, a bureau chief for the Legal Daily, the official newspaper of China's Justice Ministry.

The proposal must first be sent to China's legislature, the National People's Congress, for approval, Chen quoted Meng as saying.

Chen said he heard Meng make the pledge at a conference carried on closed-circuit television. China’s supreme court and other government offices declined to comment, although the respected independent magazine Caixin said it had confirmed Chen’s report with an unidentified conference participant.

"Meng said the reeducation system had played a useful role in the past but conditions had now changed," Chen told The Associated Press in a telephone interview.

The labor camp system originally was used to detain accused counterrevolutionaries or other critics of the Communist government, but was later expanded to punish prostitutes, drug addicts and other minor criminals. Authorities sentenced large numbers of Falun Gong adherents to the camps after banning the meditation movement as an evil cult in the late 1990s.

The labor camp system has been widely condemned by lawyers and human rights activists as outdated and open to abuse, especially in locking away those who criticize officials or government policies.

Those included minor officials and private citizens who attacked once high-flying politician Bo Xilai over his brutal crackdown on organized crime and promotion of Mao Zedong-era Communist culture, some of whom were released following his spectacular fall from power last year in the country’s biggest political scandal in years.

Ren Jianyu, a local official sentenced to two years in a labor camp after criticizing Bo’s Maoist revival on the Internet, said ending such sentences would benefit both legal reform and freedom of speech.

"I'm really happy to hear that the system will be gone. It's major progress, though the price we paid is rather heavy," said Ren, who was released last year without explanation after serving 15 months.

China has 310 labor camps holding about 310,000 prisoners and employing 100,000 staff, according to state broadcaster CCTV.

Ending labor camp sentences appears to be an indication of new Communist leader Xi Jinping’s desire to carry out moderate political and legal reforms that had largely stalled under predecessor Hu Jintao. Since taking power in November, Xi has called for further crackdowns on corruption and government extravagance and the strengthening of the legal system.

Pu Zhiqiang, a lawyer who has frequently represented government critics, said the labor camp system’s legality had long been in question and its elimination remained a long-term goal of legal activists.

"This announcement is a very good thing but we’d still like to hear them say that they’re getting rid of reeducation through labor entirely," Pu said.

Pu said it remained unclear whether the system would be replaced with something similar, or whether those already sentenced would have their records wiped clean.

Hong Kong-based human rights researcher Joshua Rosenzweig said the system’s elimination would likely increase the stress on China’s already heavily overburdened court system. While China could eliminate some sentences entirely, the country’s stability-obsessed leaders have offered no indication that they plan to do so, Rosenzweig said.

"“There’s no evidence that they’re changing their mindset on security," he said.

- AP via The Washington Post