01/07/2013 03:19 am ET Updated Mar 08, 2013

China: Controversial Forced Labor Camp System To End, Media Reports

BEIJING, Jan 7 (Reuters) - China will end its controversial system of forced labour camps, Chinese media cited the domestic security head as saying on Monday, a move that would mark a first step toward promises of reform made by new Communist Party chief Xi Jinping.

Chinese officials have pledged reform of the "re-education through labour" system, in place since the 1950s, which empowers police and other agencies to detain people for up to four years without charge.

"Use of the re-education through labour system will end this year, after approval from the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress," state broadcaster CCTV said on its official microblog site, citing the party's newly appointed Political and Legal Affairs Committee head, Meng Jianzhu.

The National People's Congress refers to China's largely rubberstamp parliament session held annually in March.

The Justice Ministry did not immediately respond to a faxed inquiry by Reuters.

The influential news magazine Caixin website also reported Meng's comments, made during a committee meeting. No further details were available from the media reports.

Meng, also public security minister, took over as head of the sprawling body that oversees law-and-order policy after November's 18th Party Congress. (Reporting by Michael Martina and Sally Huang; Editing by Nick Macfie)