At a provincial-level Communist Party political-legal commission work meeting yesterday, Yunnan security chief Meng Sutie said nobody in his province will be sentenced to re-education through labour for the remainder of 2013:
Starting now, Meng said, Yunnan will no longer approve sentences of re-education through labour in cases of suspected threats to national security, disputes ending in petitioning , and those involving "smearing" the public image of political leaders.
"All use of re-education through labour in handling illegal situations will stop," he said, "and cases will now be resolved in accordance with the applicable laws."
According to Meng, those currently working within the re-education through labour camp system will be gradually phased out.
Mistakes have definitely been made in the past, Meng said, adding that "in principle", cases involving past misuse of re-education through labour will not be heard by courts.
One goal, however, Meng emphasised later in his announcement, is to see an end to circumstances which historically have left individuals with no choice but to seek redress outside the legal system through petitioning or protest.