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Tough stance adopted in cases of child attack

By Wang Xiaoyu | China Daily | Updated: 2019-07-18 09:46

China's top prosecutor has pursued tough charges and sentences against suspects in cases of assault against children left behind in rural areas, a senior official with the Supreme People's Procuratorate said ahead of International Children's Day, which fell on June 1.

From last year through April, procuratorial organs at all levels nationwide arrested some 2,970 people for violations against children in rural areas whose parents moved to cities in search of work. They also filed charges against nearly 3,600 suspects, Shi Weizhong, director of the SPP's No 9 prosecutorial department, said in late May.

"In one case, a suspect, surnamed Liu, was convicted of drowning an 8-year-old child left behind in such circumstances, and local prosecutors in Zhenjiang, Jiangsu province, requested the death penalty following strict reviews of evidence," he said.

The death sentence was eventually passed by the court, Shi said, as he highlighted the tough stance taken against criminals who commit offenses against left-behind children.

Shi also said several provincial-level prosecutors, including those in Hubei, Fujian and Shaanxi provinces, have launched campaigns aimed at cracking down on crimes targeting minors left behind in their rural hometowns. These campaigns combined efforts from public security authorities and local courts.

Heart-wrenching stories of young victims in the countryside have focused attention on the heightened risks that rural children who grow up without their parents may face. The stories have also prompted calls for an improved system to protect this vulnerable group, whose numbers were estimated to have reached at least 9 million in 2016, according to the Ministry of Civil Affairs.

To strengthen protection of neglected juveniles, including those left behind by their parents who have moved to cities, pilot programs have been launched to prosecute those who fail to take care of their children, and in some extreme cases to revoke their guardianship, Shi said.

"The SPP has since handled nearly 90 cases in which juveniles were left in dangerous conditions without proper care from their custodians, and has asked for their guardianship to be removed," he said, adding that in the meantime, legal aid, such as counseling services, education and employment opportunities, has been provided to about 4,700 children.

The SPP is also pushing for the establishment of a long-term protection system aimed at mobilizing a number of government bodies at different levels to join efforts to tackle the issue, Shi said.

In Wujiang district, Suzhou, Jiangsu province, a system that features intense research on key issues confronting children who lack parental care has enabled the authorities to identify and help those in need in a more precise and efficient manner.

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