1. REFORM

    China Ends Labor-Camp Orders

    Image #: 7048892    Former detainee Zheng Dajing stands outside the front of a gate leading into the Tanghe County detention centre, where petitioners say they have been held in detention, in Beijing February 8, 2009. China defends its handling of human rights under a glare of international scrutiny this week, but the battle over its citizens' rights is also being waged in the country's own back alleys and rural byways. Beijing faces its first "universal periodic review" at the United Nations Human Rights Commission from Monday, a process giving groups and governments a chance to press Chinese officials on secretive executions, jailed dissidents, labour-reeducation camps, and detention of protesters.         REUTERS/David Gray /Landov

    David Gray/Reuters, via Landov,DAVID GRAY

    China will cease giving out labor-camp sentences this year, according to the country’s top law-enforcement official. During a conference, Meng Jianzhu, the head of the Communist Party Politics and Law Commission, reportedly said that although the system was once useful, conditions have changed. The move would be a major step in reforming China’s judicial system, but it is not clear what will become of existing “reeducation through labor camps” or their current inmates. China claims to have 310 labor camps, which hold 310,000 prisoners and employ 100,000 staff. One activist said, “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.”

    Read it at The Associated Press