Chi­nese who buy chil­dren to be pros­e­cuted: re­port


Buy­ers of ab­ducted chil­dren in China will face crim­i­nal pun­ish­ment un­der pro­posed laws that would re­move an ex­emp­tion from pros­e­cu­tion, re­ports said Thurs­day, as author­i­ties clamp down on the flour­ish­ing child traf­fick­ing in­dus­try.

More than 13,000 chil­dren were res­cued by po­lice in China last year, the China Daily said, with de­mand for stolen young­sters fu­eled by a tra­di­tional pref­er­ence for sons and a one-child limit for some cou­ples.

Cur­rent law im­poses harsh sen­tences for child traf­fick­ing, in­clud­ing the death penalty in cer­tain cases.

Buy­ers of kid­napped chil­dren can be sen­tenced to up to three years in jail, but are ex­empt from crim­i­nal pro­ceed­ings if they have not abused the chil­dren or ob­structed ef­forts to res­cue them.

The re­vised crim­i­nal law will elim­i­nate the ex­cep­tion and “in­crease penal­ties for those who buy chil­dren,” the state-run news­pa­per said, with­out spec­i­fy­ing po­ten­tial sen­tences. “Buy­ers would re­ceive a less se­vere penalty if they did not abuse the child or at­tempt to hin­der res­cue ef­forts,” it added.

The re­vised law was wel­comed by Feng Jian­lin, a fa­ther from Shanxi province in north­ern China whose daugh­ter was kid­napped in 2008 when she was nine.

“I think those who buy chil­dren should be pun­ished, and the pro­posed law will pro­mote China’s an­tibaby traf­fick­ing cam­paign,” said Feng, who has set up an in­for­ma­tion­shar­ing web­site which has seen 14 chil­dren re­united with their bi­o­log­i­cal par­ents.

“Cur­rently peo­ple do not break the law if they buy chil­dren, so the traf­fick­ing busi­ness is ram­pant in China,” he told AFP.

Par­ents of miss­ing chil­dren com- monly use the In­ter­net to search for their off­spring, and thou­sands have posted photos of ba­bies and tod­dlers on web­site Baby Come Home, as well as shar­ing in­for­ma­tion on Feng’s web­site.

Ba­bies in Mor­tu­ar­ies

Child traf­fick­ing has grown into a huge prob­lem in China, where this year alone po­lice have bro­ken up crim­i­nal gangs found keep­ing ba­bies in dis­used mor­tu­ar­ies and con­fin­ing preg­nant women to fac­to­ries be­fore selling their new­borns.

Ear­lier this year, a Chi­nese mother in the cen­tral province of He­nan was charged with hu­man traf­fick­ing for al­legedly con­spir­ing with a doc­tor to sell her baby boy for al­most US$7,000.

In 2013 sev­eral fam­i­lies in Shaanxi province ac­cused a doc­tor of per­suad­ing them to give up their chil­dren shortly af­ter birth, al­le­ga­tions that led to a num­ber of lo­cal of­fi­cials be­ing sacked.

Al­most 13,000 peo­ple in­volved in hu­man traf­fick­ing were pun­ished be­tween 2010 and last year, the China Daily said, cit­ing the Supreme Peo­ple’s Court.

More than half of those con­victed re­ceived sen­tences rang­ing from five years in prison to death.

The new crim­i­nal law was sub­mit­ted Wed­nes­day to the Stand­ing Com­mit­tee of the Na­tional Peo­ple’s Congress, China’s rub­ber-stamp par­lia­ment.

Other re­vi­sions in­clude harsher pun­ish­ments for those in­volved in “cults or su­per­sti­tious ac­tiv­i­ties,” and widen­ing the list of ac­tiv­i­ties which can be de­fined as “ter­ror­ism,” state news agency Xin­hua said.

China has pre­vi­ously cracked down harshly on groups it la­bels “cults,” most no­tably the Falun Gong spir­i­tual move­ment, which was banned in the late 1990s.

More re­cently the out­lawed “Quan­neng­shen” — which can be trans­lated as the Church of Almighty God — has been tar­geted.

A fa­ther and daugh­ter who be­longed to Quan­neng­shen were ex­e­cuted in Fe­bru­ary, hav­ing been con­victed of beat­ing a woman to death at a McDon­ald’s res­tau­rant, re­port­edly af­ter she re­buffed their at­tempts to re­cruit her.

China has also rolled out tough mea­sures to con­front what it la­bels “ter­ror­ism” in the largely Mus­lim re­gion of Xin­jiang, sen­tenc­ing to death scores of peo­ple while hun­dreds have been jailed or de­tained.

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