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Speaking at an internal work meeting yesterday on the four promised reforms, secretary of Guangzhou's politics and law commission Wu Sha told those present the priority now is to gradually start thinking about re-education through labour ('laojiao') as a practice which could be tightly controlled even, if the timing were right, halted altogether.
What Wu said isn't very different from what Guangdong Department of Justice head Yan Zhichan also said to media earlier this week with her emphasis that the majority of laojiao cases involve compulsory drug treatment followed by cases involving burglaries, gambling, solicitation and prostitution and public order violations.
Yan said an end to use of laojiao in Guangdong could be realised as early as this year, but that depends on whether a proposal to that effect gets passed at the National People's Congress session in Beijing in March.
For a detailed look at Guangdong's ongoing debate over reforming laojiao, check out this analysis today at the Duihua Human Rights Journal.
Last week, Guangzhou deputy mayor and head of the city's Public Security Bureau Xie Xiaodan said as far as he was concerned the biggest obstacle to scrapping use of laojiao is finding alternative means of punishment.
On Tuesday this week, one of Xie's deputies announced he plans to propose legalising the use of caning when he arrives in Beijing in March to attend the annual legislative sessions.
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