Office to focus on juvenile case hearings

(China Daily)      Updated : 2021-03-03

An office that will promote the work of juvenile courts was set up at China's top court on Tuesday to strengthen the protection of minors and better solve problems involving children.

The office, with fixed staff members, will help juvenile tribunals across the country enhance management and improve their professionalism in handling cases, Yang Wanming, vice-president of the Supreme People's Court, said at a news conference on Tuesday.

He said the establishment of the office is a key move in meeting the central leadership's rule of law requirements and also a response to public concerns about children's development in recent years.

Statistics from the top court show that from 2016 to last year, Chinese courts punished 24,386 people who harmed juveniles, including those who abducted or molested children, or organized child begging gangs, and solved more than 1.2 million civil cases regarding child raising, custody and visitation.

Meanwhile, violent crimes committed by youngsters, including intentional killing, injuries and rapes, frequently hit headlines and shocked the nation, causing heated public discussions about the need to strengthen the rehabilitation of young offenders.

To solve the problems, last year the country's top legislature revised the Criminal Law and two other laws on protecting minors and preventing juvenile delinquency.

"While helping juvenile courts apply the amended laws accurately in case handling, the office will conduct more research on new and hot issues about children, such as school bullying, child molestation, guardianship of left-behind children and children's information safety," Yang, who heads the office, said.

He said it plans to unify the standards of case hearings involving children nationwide by revising or drafting judicial interpretations and publishing details of influential cases.

On Tuesday, the top court also established six work stations for dealing with juvenile affairs in its circuit courts in Shenzhen, Shenyang, Nanjing, Zhengzhou, Chongqing and Xi'an in a bid to give stronger support to the protection of children and their development.

To remove confusions in legal practice and help the public better understand the laws, the top court issued the details of seven benchmark criminal cases at the news conference.

In one, a man surnamed Zou was recently sentenced to 10 years in prison for molesting two boys under the age of 10 over a long time.

"The convict's actions seriously harmed the children, causing them psychological trauma, so he should be harshly punished," said He Li, chief judge of the top court's No 1 Criminal Division.

"The case also told us that preventing boys from being molested is as important as it is for girls," she said, calling for society to pay more attention to boys' protection.

In January, a guideline issued by the top court ordered courts nationwide to offer urgent and necessary psychological, economic and educational support to children when hearing cases involving violence and sexual assault.