China to bolster child protection laws following series of abuse cases

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 21 January, 2014, 11:16am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 21 January, 2014, 5:27pm

China plans to roll out new laws by the end of this year to increase protection of minors in the wake of a series of child abuse cases last year, a report said.

The Supreme People’s Court, the Ministry of Civil Affairs, the Ministry of Public Security and several other related departments are working together to establish a legal mechanism that would deprive abusive or negligent parents of their custody rights in the event of such cases, Xinhua reported on Monday.

The proposed “underage intervention mechanism” aims to close existing legal loopholes in terms of protecting children and strengthening family guardianship, the report said.

The mainland’s current law on protecting the underage from family abuse is largely in principle and does not include implementation details, it added.

While China’s 1991 Child Protection Law, 1987 Civil Law and other relevant bylaws define the deprivation of parental custody, there are no specific provisions on how to implement these laws. It is especially unclear about which department is responsible for caring for children if parental custody is removed, and what precautions should be taken.

In recent years, a series of child abuse cases resulting in severe injuries and in some cases death provoked a public outcry demanding reform. These cases have been described as a wake-up call for the government to create child custody supervision bylaws.

On Monday, a seven-year-old girl in a village near Xi’an city, central China was reported to have starved to death when her mother, suspected to have a mental disorder, abandoned the girl alone at home. Last June in southeast China’s Nanjing city a drug addict mother locked her two daughters, aged one and three, at home while the father was away, resulting in them starving to death. The mother was sentenced to life in prison last September.

Since May last year, the Ministry of Civil Affairs has set up experimental child protection stations in 20 regions in Jiangsu, Henan and Sichuan provinces, based on existing homeless child protection mechanisms and aiming to build a new system of child protection and family care interventions.

It was reported that the second session of the National People's Congress (NPC) Standing Committee will discuss legislative planning, and the committee is expected to make changes to the Criminal Procedure Law through this year’s legislative working programme. It is hoped that new policies focusing on child protection and intervention will be part of the process.