Parents of missing teenagers win in new trafficking law

By CHEN JIA (China Daily)
Updated: 2010-03-11 07:02
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BEIJING: Chinese police plan to introduce a new guideline making it easier to rescue teenage girls from the clutches of human traffickers.

The guideline will speed up the investigation and filing of cases involving girls between 14 and 18, who often fall through the cracks of anti-trafficking legislation, said Chen Shiqu, chief of the anti-trafficking office under the Ministry of Public Security (MPS).

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"Parents will be able to seek legal help without providing complete evidence about their missing children," Chen was quoted by the Beijing Morning Post.

The MPS will jointly issue the guideline with the Supreme People's Court, Supreme People's Procuratorate and the Ministry of Justice, the report said.

"It's good news for parents, as grassroots legal departments can no longer refuse a case related to missing girls aged 14 to 18," Zhang Zhiwei, a lawyer and volunteer with the non-government organization Baby Come Home, told China Daily on Wednesday.

"The understanding of the law surrounding girls 14 to 18 years old was always a nebulous concept, and in some trafficking cases it wasted the best time to save the girls," he said.

Zhang said missing girls younger than 14 fall under the anti-trafficking law for children, while many people mistakenly believe that the anti-trafficking law for women only relates to those older than 18.

Zhang, who has inspired more than 20,000 volunteers to share information about missing children, said many websites now facilitate parents sharing information about missing children.

In a move to reconnect families, the MPS released information on about 60 rescued children on its website last October, and seven of them have found their parents, the report said yesterday.

The data includes the 60 children's photos, ages, the time they went missing and how to contact the department in charge.

Chinese police freed more than 3,400 children and 7,300 women during a nine-month national campaign against human trafficking that was launched in early April last year.

To help reconnect children with their parents, police will speed up the construction of a national DNA database, which has only 20,000 to 30,000 records.

Information in the database is shared among the country's 236 DNA laboratories.

It includes DNA of the missing children given by their parents, as well as samples taken from children suspected of having been abducted or from children with an unclear history.

About 30,000 to 60,000 children are reported missing every year, but it is hard to estimate how many are involved in trafficking cases, according to the MPS.