Strictly punish sellers and buyers of children
by the Supreme People’s Court on Thursday, acts that lure children under the age of 6 away from their parents or guardians will be defined as “infant stealing”, which may result in 10 years behind bars at the minimum, even the death penalty under serious circumstances. Daily Sunshine, a newspaper based in Shenzhen, South China’s Guangdong province, commented on Friday:
The top court’s revised interpretation of the crime of “infant stealing” should be a major deterrent to human traffickers and settle many disputes over what constitutes “infant stealing”. The update, which will come into effect on Jan 1, came a week after some 36 kidnapped children were rescued in a joint operation under the command of the Ministry of Public Security that covered seven provinces and netted some 157 suspects.
Admittedly, kidnapped children are “lucky” if someone pays to adopt them, because many of them are otherwise deliberately crippled and sent out to beg. That explains why some legal experts argue that executing all kidnappers is not necessarily efficient, because that may put the kidnapped in a more dangerous position.
However, that does not make it any less essential to impose harsher punishments on baby stealers,
most of whom have been caught more than once. The light punishments mean they have not been deterred from committing the same crime again.
And before last year’s revisions to China’s Criminal Law, those who did not impede abducted women and children they bought from human traffickers from going home, mistreat the kids, or thwart the rescue of them, could be exempt from criminal penalties. Now they face minor punishments.
That is a “minor” judicial advancement. It is not enough to deter potential child buyers at bay. Refraining from mistreating kidnapped children or impeding rescue efforts, in effect, does not justify minor punishments for those who “buy” stolen children. The need to hold them accountable remains striking, because buying kidnapped children also constitutes a violation of the Criminal Law.