02/19/2007, 00.00
CHINA
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UN believes China might abolish forced labour

International Labour Organisation says the Communist government is planning to abandon its ‘re-education through labour’ policy. But for a China Labour Bulletin official there is no real sign of change.

Beijing (AsiaNews/Agencies) – Beijing has begun taking measures to ratify the convention of the International Labour Organisation (ILO) against forced labour, an official from the UN body said.

Chinese officials held talks with the ILO at a high-level seminar in Hunan province last week hosted by the Ministry of Labour, said Roger Plant, who heads the ILO's special action programme to combat forced labour. “There's definitely a process under way,” he said.

He noted that Beijing was aware of the problems of human trafficking and other forms of forced labour, and was "taking it very seriously".

For Robin Munro, research director for the China Labour Bulletin, China was not taking ratification of the convention seriously. He noted that “China's laojiao or re-education through labour is illegal according to the UN's standard. It violates the universal declaration of human rights . . . because the people who are sent to the re-education centres do not get trials.

"There're probably 300,000 people in China right now doing re-education through labour. . . . And everything about their period of laojiao . . . is decided by police, not by judges.”

For this and other reasons, he said that “there is no sign from Beijing that [the officials] are planning to abandon the 50-year-long policy.”

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