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Lawyers Propose Reform of Reeducation-Through-Labor System

August 13, 2012

The Reeducation-Through-Labor (RTL) system allows authorities to order minor offenders to labor camp for up to four years without trial and has been increasingly criticized in recent years. On August 14, 2012, ten lawyers including prominent rights defense lawyer Li Fangping (李方平) sent a proposal (Chinese only) to the Ministry of Justice and Ministry of Public Security demanding reform of the RTL system.

The lawyers propose:

  • Requiring that all cases go through administrative hearings—currently only two categories of cases require administrative hearings;
  • Declassifying RTL decisions and making them public;
  • Making the RTL review procedure public;
  • Listing those making the decision to RTL on the RTL decisions so that they can be held responsible;
  • Allowing lawyers to meet with their clients serving RTL or being ordered to serve RTL without conditions and monitoring; and
  • Exempting individuals age 60 and older from serving RTL.

The case of Tang Hui (唐慧), a mother ordered ordered to serve 18 months of RTL for petitioning for justice for her daughter who was raped at age 11, ignited public outcry against the RTL system. Tang was accused of “seriously disturbing the social order and exerting a negative impact on society."