China today formally approved easing its one-child policy and abolishing the ‘re-education through labor’ camp system, Xinhua announced. Both the policies had been under review following conclusion of the Third Plenum in November, when the reforms had been announced.
The new policy permits couples to have two children if one of the parents is an only child. Previously, the law required both parents to be only children in order to have a second child.
The plan was envisioned by the government about five years ago, with officials worried that the strict controls were undermining economic growth and contributing to a rapidly ageing population China had no hope of supporting financially.
The resolution, formally approved by China’s largely rubber- stamp parliament on Saturday, will allow local legislatures to decide when to implement the policies, Xinhua said.
Parliament also approved the abolition of the “re-education through labor” system, in place since 1957, which allows police to sentence petty criminals to up to four years’ confinement in labor camps without going through the courts.
A report released by Amnesty International earlier this month referred to the labor camp reform as being merely a “cosmetic change” to avert public outcry.
The human rights group says that while labor camps are being shut, research suggested that authorities are expanding the use of “black jails,” enforced drug rehabilitation clinics and “brainwashing centers” to take their place.
“There is a very real risk that the Chinese authorities will abolish one system of arbitrary detention only to expand the use of other types,” the report said.