Judicial System

Guideline says suspicions must be reported quickly

Updated: Jul 3, 2023 By Cao Yin China Daily Print
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Individuals and government departments are now required to act immediately if they suspect that a child is being sexually abused online or receive reports to that effect, according to a new guideline.

The requirement is highlighted in the document issued by the Supreme People's Procuratorate, the Supreme People's Court, the Ministry of Public Security and the Ministry of Justice at the end of May. The measures outlined took effect on June 1.

The move is aimed at further implementing a mandatory system that orders people close to minors — such as those engaged in the fields of education and healthcare — to report anyone who is suspected of harming a child or children to the police, said Na Yanfang, head of the SPP's Ninth Procuratorial Office.

The system was set up in 2020 by the SPP and eight other authorities in an effort to uncover, fight and prevent crimes against children in a timely manner.

Na cited data that showed that by the end of last year, the system had helped identify more than 5,300 cases of harm to children, adding that the number of reports was 1.6 times higher than the combined total for 2020 and 2021.

She said that most reports focused on sexual assault, noting that the system has become a key way of identifying minors who are being, or have been, sexually abused.

However, she added that in some 3,000 cases handled by prosecutors nationwide last year, it was found that some people who should have reported suspicions failed to do so, especially hotel workers who saw adults checking in with children.

"In response, we stressed the implementation of the reporting system in the guideline, urging those close to minors to prevent such assaults and take urgent measures to protect victims," she said.

In addition, the 60-article guideline streamlined the procedures for handling criminal cases involving harm to children and described specific situations in which convicted offenders should face longer prison terms, such as serial molestation and injury.

For example, it orders the police to question minors in places that provide a sense of security and stipulates that officers must protect children's privacy and reputations when investigating such cases.

It also states that harsher punishments will be given to criminals who sexually assault or rape children in public areas, such as campuses, swimming pools, student dorms or amusement parks.

Moreover, it requires various and timely assistance — including measures related to finance, education, medical help and psychological assistance — for underage victims to prevent secondary damage.

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