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Draft law to better prevent juvenile crimes

By ZHANG ZHOUXIANG | China Daily | Updated: 2020-10-14 07:06


On Tuesday, the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress, the nation's top legislature, discussed the draft of the latest amendment to the Criminal Law. One of its clauses has attracted nationwide attention.

The current age of criminal liability in China is 14. The amendment proposes that it be lowered to 12 in cases where the offense is murder or intentional injury leading to a person's death. The Supreme People's Procuratorate will review cases to decide whether the age of criminal liability should be lowered.

The move will go a long way in protecting juveniles in China. While the Juvenile Protection Law exempts juveniles from criminal liability, it is not without problems.

Some juvenile delinquents have the potential to commit more violent offenses or crimes when they grow up, making it clear that age may not be the right criterion for judging whether they should bear criminal liability for the offenses they commit.

Besides, most victims of juvenile crimes are also juveniles. If the offenders escape punishment according to the Criminal Law, we cannot say justice has been done.

On Oct 20, 2019, a 13-year-old boy tried to rape a 10-year-old girl in Dalian, Liaoning province, and killed her when the attempt failed. During investigation, the police found that he did not regret his action one bit. However, he did not face any criminal charges because of his age. He was just sent to a detention center for "education".

Furthermore, his parents did not pay the 1.28 million yuan ($189,540) compensation the court had asked them to pay the girl's family.

Many claim that the Juvenile Protection Law, though meant to protect law-abiding juveniles, often ends up protecting the law-breakers.

The proposed draft amendment, by lowering the criminal liability age, could better prevent juvenile crimes. The procedures are so strict that those committing light offenses will not receive severe punishment. Hope the amendment passes and juveniles get better protection.

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