Make me your Homepage
left corner left corner
China Daily Website

Lawsuits seek reform in wake of starved toddlers

Updated: 2013-11-07 08:45
By Cang Wei and Song Wenwei in Nanjing ( China Daily)

Lawsuits against two government organizations in Nanjing, Jiangsu province, for their reluctance to disclose information in the case of a mother whose two toddlers starved to death after being left home alone went to trial on Wednesday.

On June 21, news that the 22-year-old mother, Yue Yan, had left her two daughters, aged 1 and 2, at home with the door and windows shut and let them starve to death shocked the nation. Yue was later sentenced to life in prison for intentional homicide.

On June 26, five lawyers on June 26 asked the public security bureau, the subdistrict office, the civil affairs bureau and the women's federation in Nanjing's Jiangning district to explain what they had done to protect the children. The four organizations would not provide information.

On July 30, lawyer Wang Yu together with three other lawyers filed lawsuits against the four organizations. On Wednesday, the Jiangning People's Procuratorate took up the complaints against the public security bureau and the subdistrict office.

"It is against China's law for those government organizations to simply say they cannot provide information," said Wang, a lawyer from Beijing's Fei Rei Law Firm. "According to a 2007 regulation of information disclosure, people have the right to ask a public service department for information according to their needs.

"Even if those organizations cannot provide the information, they should explain the reason," Wang said.

Attorney Xu Ying, Wang's associate from Nanjing's Hengding Law Firm, said that child protection laws and regulations grant courts the right to change the custody of children "if the relevant organizations request it".

But the local public security bureau and the subdistrict office argued in court that they had no right to apply for changes in the custody of the children.

Yue, a drug addict, ran away from home at the age of 16. She became the toddlers' sole guardian after the children's father was imprisoned in February for a drug-related crime.

"No organizations knew what happened in Yue's family better than local police officers and workers from the subdistrict office," Xu said. "If they were not the relevant authorities and didn't exercise their responsibility to request alteration of the children's custody, who should be there taking care of the children?

"We hope that our lawsuits can make the relevant government organizations realize their responsibilities," said Xu. "We also hope that improvements in the child protection laws and regulations can be made, and that those vague expressions such as 'relevant organizations' can be made clear for the benefit of children," Xu said.

Wang said that she will appeal to a higher court if necessary.

Hot Topics
A sailor from British Royal Navy destroyer HMS Daring tries to catch a mooring line to dock in the north side of the bund at Huangpu River in Shanghai December 10, 2013.