Officials vow to draft guardianship laws

By He Dan in Beijing and Ma Lie in Xi'an ( China Daily ) Updated: 2014-01-22 08:17:19

Policymakers pledged to come up with measures on transferring guardianship for minors before 2015 amid recent reports of children who had been abused to death.

A 7-year-old girl was found dead on Friday at her home in Xi'an, Shaanxi province, police said on Tuesday.

A source from the Xi'an Public Security Bureau said the girl lived with her mother in Dongqujiangshi village in the city's Yanta district.

Police found that the girl died of hunger, and they detained the girl's mother, who was suspected of suffering from a mental illness.

According to residents, the girl's mother divorced in 2010 and the girl had not received any education and was rarely seen in the village.

Huang Ermei, vice-president of the Supreme People's Court, revealed that the Ministry of Civil Affairs and the Ministry of Public Security have held discussions to stipulate policies this year on government intervention in child abuse cases.

The current law has failed to specify who can sue when a child is abused by their legal guardian, Huang said at a legal symposium on child protection in Beijing on Monday.

She added there are severe flaws in the current legal system concerning child abuse, referring to a case in June last year, in which two toddlers in Nanjing, Jiangsu province, starved to death while their drug-addicted mother left them home alone for days.

According to Chinese law, "relevant individuals or institutions" can appeal to the courts to transfer guardianship if a parent or other legal guardian fails to fulfill their duty to the child and if repeated intervention fails to change the guardian's behavior.

The law doesn't further define "relevant individuals or institutions".

Zhang Xuemei, executive director of Beijing Children's Legal Aid who also attended the meeting on Monday, said some legal articles need to be updated to better protect children.

Under current law, when a legal guardian dies or becomes unable to offer custody and there is no other person who can take care of the child, the guardian's employer or the neighborhood committee should act as the child's legal guardian.

"This is so unrealistic nowadays," Zhang said.

She urged the Supreme People's Court to rewrite legislation so the civil affairs department would be appointed as the primary guardian for children who lost their legal guardians or their legal guardians are incapable of taking care of them.

Vice-Minister of Civil Affairs Dou Yupei pledged to promote the current law's amendment and explore a feasible intervention mechanism for troubled families.

Wang Lequan, head of the China Law Society and one of the symposium's three organizers, urged the government to provide more resources and services for families to prevent dangerous situations for children, caused by either the parents or the lack of a legal guardian.

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Cao Yin contributed tothis story.

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