China’s top legislative committee abolished the country’s notorious “re-education through labour” camps and loosened its one-child policy, state media reported on Saturday.
The decisions were taken at the end of a six-day meeting by the standing committee of the National People’s Congress following promises made by the ruling Communist Party at its Third Plenum meeting last month.
Prisoners would be released “upon the date of promulgation” of the resolution, the Xinhua news agency said.
The Congress also voted to widen existing exceptions to the one-child policy, to allow couples where either parent has no siblings to have two children, the Xinhua news agency said.
Human rights campaigners fear that ending the camps will amount to a cosmetic change, as they are replaced by new methods of state control.
Chinese authorities increasingly rely on “black jails”, enforced drug rehabilitation centres and “brainwashing centres”, Amnesty International said last week.