CHINA> National
DNA databank to trace kidnapped kids
By Cao Li (China Daily)
Updated: 2009-05-02 09:03

SHANGHAI: A nationwide DNA databank has been launched to help authorities identify abducted children and return them to their families.

Already 32 of the nation's 236 provincial and city laboratories have access to the network, with the rest to be added this month, said the Ministry of Public Security.

Blood samples will be taken of all parents who report missing children and stored on the database, allowing scientists to test their DNA against any youngsters police rescue from abduction, find homeless or begging in the street, or suspect of being kidnapped.

No fee should be charged for the service, said the ministry after the program was unveiled on Wednesday.

DNA verification is regarded as the most effective way to identify stolen children. In 2000, during a national crackdown on trafficking, it helped reunite 546 children with their parents.

There are around 3,000 cases of abduction involving children or women recorded every year, reported Caijing Magazine on its website. However, experts believe, the real number could be as much as 20,000.

Since 1991, the ministry has launched five campaigns in response to the growing problem of human trafficking. But although initially effective, the widespread raids proved only a short-term solution until the crooks restarted their illegal operations.

A court in Shandong province jailed 22 traffickers in July last year after hearing the gang had abducted and sold more than 20 children for at least 10,000 yuan ($1,500) between 2003 and 2007.

But Judge Lu Dongxiao, of Shouguang People's Court, Shandong, told China Comment magazine the trafficking market was fueled by the high demand for male heirs and the poverty experienced by rural families.

The crime also offered potentially high gains for little risk, he was quoted as saying, because very young children were usually unable to give investigators a suitable description of their kidnappers to aid their capture.

The ministry launched its sixth anti-trafficking campaign on Wednesday and released the details of six men and four women they suspect currently play a major part in abduction of women and children in China.

A 50,000-yuan reward has been offered for any information that leads to the arrest of the 10 suspects.