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China to abolish its labour camps

China's leaders have voted to abolish a much-criticised penal system that allowed police to lock up people for up to four years without due process.

The official Xinhua News said the standing committee of the National People's Congress today adopted a resolution to abolish the re-education labour system.

It formalises a decision by the ruling Chinese Communist Party last month.

Xinhua says all those serving time in the labour camps will be set free starting today.

But it says penalties handed out before the abolition should still be considered legitimate, a provision aimed at preventing the victims from suing the state and seeking redress.

China's senior leadership signalled its intention to end the system in January, and many labour camps have stopped admitting people since then.

AP

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