‘In­fant steal­ing’ re­de­fined amid ef­fort to fight crimes

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - CHINA - By CAO YIN caoyin@chi­nadaiy.com.cn

Peo­ple who lure or trick in­fants in or­der to abduct them will face heav­ier penal­ties, the top court an­nounced.

In a new ju­di­cial in­ter­pre­ta­tion, re­leased by the Supreme Peo­ple’s Court on Thurs­day, acts that in­volve the ab­duc­tion of chil­dren un­der the age of 6 through lur­ing them away from their par­ent or guardian, such as trick­ing them with toys or coax­ing them to play out­side, will be de­fined as “in­fant steal­ing”.

Un­der Chi­nese Crim­i­nal Law, peo­ple who steal in­fants will be sen­tenced to at least 10 years in jail, and se­ri­ous cir­cum­stances, in­clud­ing steal­ing or treat­ing ba­bies in cruel ways, will re­sult in the death penalty.

In the past, only peo­ple who stole sleep­ing ba­bies were charged with in­fant steal­ing, “but such cases were rare”, said a judge at the top court’s No 3 Crim­i­nal Tri­bunal.

“In other words, the pun­ish­ment for baby steal­ers did not play a sig­nif­i­cant role in the fight against such ab­duc­tions,” said the judge, who de­clined to be named.

There­fore, it is vi­tal to up­date the in­ter­pre­ta­tion, “as grass­roots courts need prac­ti­cal mea­sures to deal with ab­duc­tion-re­lated cases, es­pe­cially a clear def­i­ni­tion of in­fant steal­ing”, he said.

The in­ter­pre­ta­tion, which is to come into ef­fect on Jan 1, stip­u­lates that of­fi­cers who sell chil­dren they look af­ter in places such as med­i­cal care in­sti­tu­tions or so­cial wel­fare or­ga­ni­za­tions will be charged with ab­duc­tion.

Ruan Chuan­sheng, a crim­i­nal lawyer in Shang­hai, praised the in­ter­pre­ta­tion. “It will play a big­ger and more prac­ti­cal role in solv­ing ab­duc­tion cases.”

“The re­vi­sion is to fight in­fant steal­ing by pun­ish­ing the thieves more se­verely. Peo­ple us­ing tricks to take in­fants away from their par­ents is some­thing that hap­pens more fre­quently than peo­ple might think, which is why the top court ex­panded the def­i­ni­tion,” Ruan said. “Widen­ing the def­i­ni­tion of the crime will be more use­ful for threat­en­ing peo­ple who have such in­ten­tions.”

Ruan spoke highly of var­i­ous ju­di­cial mea­sures against ab­duc­tion over the past years, adding that the govern­ment’s de­ter­mi­na­tion has been ef­fec­tive in con­trol­ling ab­duc­tion.

From Jan­uary to Novem­ber, Chi­nese courts con­cluded 618 cases re­lat­ing to the traf­fick­ing of women or chil­dren, charg­ing 1,107 peo­ple, ac­cord­ing to the top court.

The num­ber of such crimes has been fall­ing, it said. In 2015, courts across the na­tion con­cluded 853 ab­duc­tion cases and charged 1,362 of­fend­ers. Both the fig­ures were a 50 per­cent de­cline com­pared with 2012, it said.

In ad­di­tion, the re­vised Crim­i­nal Law, ef­fec­tive since Nov 1, also in­creased penal­ties for those found guilty of buy­ing women or chil­dren, in an ef­fort to un­cover the buyer’s mar­ket.

How­ever, Ruan said: “So­cial or­ga­ni­za­tions should con­trib­ute more to the fight and pro­vide more psy­cho­log­i­cal sup­port for those who have been ab­ducted. Only re­ly­ing on poli­cies is far from enough.”

Widen­ing the def­i­ni­tion of the crime will be more use­ful for threat­en­ing peo­ple who have such in­ten­tions.” Ruan Chuan­sheng, crim­i­nal lawyer in Shang­hai

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