China ‘should prosecute juveniles from age 12’ after boy, 13, accused of scissor attack on girl is let off

Police claimed they were unable to charge the accused boy because he was below the age of criminal responsibility for alleged attack on 14-year-old

PUBLISHED : Monday, 02 July, 2018, 7:34pm
UPDATED : Monday, 02 July, 2018, 7:43pm

There have been calls for China’s age of criminal responsibility to be lowered from 14 to 12 after police said the case of a 13-year-old boy accused of attacking a 14-year-old girl was thrown out because he was too young to be prosecuted, a newspaper reported on Monday.

The girl’s mother said her daughter was found naked in the building where she lived in Xiaogan, Hubei province, with several wounds to her neck, arms and legs, according to China Youth Daily.

Police detained a boy on the night of the alleged incident in March but said they released him because he was five months short of his 14th birthday, the starting age for criminal responsibility in China, the report said.

The police report stated that the boy had emerged from a staircase when the girl was waiting for a lift and took her to a different floor, armed with scissors.

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According to the girl’s account, the boy stabbed her and tried to steal her money before forcing her to remove her clothes, the newspaper reported.

A report compiled last year by a juvenile court in Beijing, using data from the previous eight years, suggested that the average age of juvenile offenders – those aged between 14 and 18 – had been getting lower.

Research in 2014 by the China Youth and Children Research Centre suggested that 14-year-olds accounted for 20 per cent of all juvenile offenders, up 8 per cent from the figure in 2001, Jinghua Times reported in 2015.

Li Chunsheng, an expert in minor protection law from Hubei Lawyers Association, said the age of criminal responsibility should be lowered to 12 because children’s mental maturity was becoming accelerated and many juvenile offenders were showing similar cognitive ability to adults, China Youth Daily reported.

Other legal and youth protection experts, and members of the National People’s Congress, China’s legislature, expressed similar opinions at a consultation meeting last year about minor protection law, the report said.

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The girl’s mother expressed her disappointment last Tuesday on Weibo, China’s Twitter, over the handling of the case, getting more than 17,000 reposts and over 9,400 comments, reported the newspaper.

“If the law protects underage criminals, who can protect my young daughter?” the mother was quoted as saying in the report.

A local police inspector, surnamed Liu, said that it was left to parents to discipline their children but that police could request them to be sent to government rehabilitation if parents agreed, according to the China Youth Daily report.

Liu said the boy’s father had refused to send him to rehabilitation and the two sides had been discussing compensation out of court, although had not reached agreement, the newspaper reported.