Supreme People's Court establishes juvenile court office to ensure protection of minors
Published: Mar 04, 2021 03:28 AM
A procuratorate employee in Changde, Central China's Hunan Province reads a brochure on preventing juvenile crime to local middle school students on April 23, 2015. Photos: CFP

A procuratorate employee in Changde, Central China's Hunan Province reads a brochure on preventing juvenile crime to local middle school students on April 23, 2015. Photos: CFP

To strengthen judicial protection for minors, China's Supreme People's Court (SPC) officially established a juvenile court office and set up juvenile court trial sites in six circuit courts on Tuesday, focusing on targeted research into juvenile trial issues, including crimes committed by underage children, child sexual abuse, child trafficking and school bullying.

The juvenile court office is mainly responsible for the comprehensive coordination of juvenile trial guidance, participation in the trial management of juvenile cases, and coordination of the work of juvenile cases, Yang Wanming, vice president of the SPC and director of the juvenile court office, said at the press conference.

Since Shanghai Changning District People's Court established China's first collegial panel for juvenile criminal cases in 1984, with the continuous progress of China's legal system construction, the number of juvenile courts in China has been increasing, and the degree of specialization of juvenile trials has also become stronger. 

Yang introduced that in the development process of juvenile courts, local courts have actively explored and created trial systems and working mechanisms suitable for the characteristics of juveniles, such as social investigation, sealing criminal records, and psychological counseling. Many practical experiences have been regulated into legal provisions.

"Juvenile trials are known as 'a special project of hope,'" Yang said, noting that through education and correction, the vast majority of Chinese juvenile delinquents are reintegrated into society smoothly.

Responding to social concerns, Yang said the SPC is determined to severely punish crimes such as murder, sexual assault, trafficking, abuse, school bullying, and the use of the internet to commit fraud and other serious crimes against the legitimate rights and interests of minors.

For serious crimes that challenge the bottom line of laws and social ethics, criminals who should be sentenced to heavy punishment or even the death penalty should be resolutely dealt with in accordance with the law, Yang added.

"The establishment of a special department in the national legal system to strengthen the investigation and research of juvenile crime cases and trial issues and revising or formulating new judicial interpretations and judicial policies are important to ensure that minors are effectively protected while maximizing the potential to rehabilitate delinquent juveniles," Lin Zhengxiang, a Beijing-based criminal lawyer told the Global Times on Wednesday.

Lin pointed out that adolescence is a key stage of life when minors are susceptible to the temptations of the external environment, and are also more vulnerable to the influence of criminals.   

"Entering the 21st century, there has been a trend of crimes being committed at a younger age. Juvenile crimes are mostly committed by gangs, and the means have become more mature and intelligent," Lin explained.

From 2016 to 2020, courts nationwide tried 24,035 criminal cases of infringement upon the legitimate rights and interests of minors, including trafficking, child molestation and organizing children to beg, with 24,386 offenders being punished in accordance with the law. At the same time, from 2016 to 2020, people's courts concluded more than 1.2 million civil cases involving the upbringing and guardianship of minors, Beijing News reported.    

In the next step, people's courts at all levels will thoroughly implement China's Civil Code, the Law on the Protection of Minors, the Anti-Domestic Violence Law and other relevant laws and regulations, as well as adhering to the principle of maximizing the interests of minors, and ensuring that minors receive special and priority protection, said an official from the SPC.