China’s hugely controversial forced labor camp system will be abolished this year, a senior legal official said on Monday.

State media China Daily quoted Chen Jiping, deputy director of the China Law Society, as saying that a key meeting had agreed to tightly limit the use of the scheme – known as laojiao – until it could be scrapped by China’s rubber-stamp parliament, the National People’s Congress, when it convenes in March.

Chen described the system as having “made its contribution at a time when the Communist Party of China was consolidating the republic and rectifying social order, but now China has well-established legal systems”. Critics claimed the system was used to silence those against the government.

Earlier this month, reports emerged briefly that the system would be abolished but was immediately deleted and replaced with claims the government “will push reforms”, AFP reports.

Around 60,000 people are detained in “re-education” camps, most of whom serve from six months to a year of manual labor such as farm or factory work. People can be sentenced to up to four years without trial.