[JURIST] A group of renowned Chinese lawyers and academics Tuesday released an open letter to the Chinese government [text, in Chinese], calling for the end of "re-education" labor camps. The scholars said the camps, originally designed in 1957 to deal with political dissidents, violate the Chinese constitution because sentences are imposed by police or political leaders rather than by the judiciary. They also said the camps exist in violation of numerous Chinese laws and international human rights laws to which China is a party. The scholars who signed the letter include an Economist at the China Academy of Social Sciences, and professors from People's University and the China University of Political Science and Law [official websites, in Chinese].
Human rights groups have been protesting the re-education camps for years. In March, the Chinese Parliament considered reforming the re-education system [JURIST report]. In August, Amnesty International [advocacy website] noted that the continued use of re-education camps shows that China is failing to meet its promise to improve human rights [report text; JURIST report] in preparation for the 2008 Olympics [official website] in Beijing. In October, the Chinese organizer of a 12,000 signature petition asking the government to eliminate re-education camps was arrested and sent to one [Toronto Star report], without trial or access to counsel. AFP has more.