New department will protect minors, both as victims and criminal offenders
Experts said a new prosecuting department under the Supreme People's Procuratorate will require careful coordination in tackling cases involving minors in order to better protect the rights of victims and perpetrators.
On Saturday, the SPP said the new agency-the No 9 prosecuting department-would handle crimes against minors and push for severe punishment for those who target children.
"Setting up the special department at the SPP is a new initiative. It will play an essential role," said Bian Jianlin, a professor at China University of Political Science and Law.
Zheng Chuankai, a lawyer from the Beijing Lawyers Association, said that once the new department is in place, prosecutors will beef up efforts to fight crimes against children, while also taking steps to salvage young offenders and turn them into responsible citizens.
"The SPP will gather professionals to deal with such cases. In an effort to protect every child's healthy growth and development, they will arrest and prosecute in a timely manner those who harm children."
According to the SPP, the main tasks of the new department are to pursue and prosecute people who infringe on the rights of minors, and to educate and influence young people so they don't commit crimes.
"We have been exploring a special investigation method and prosecution procedures that take into account minors' physical and mental characteristics and level of development. We want to reform misbehaving children and prepare them for future life," the SPP has said.
In recent years, cases involving harm to juveniles－including rape, molestation, trafficking and torture－are on the rise because of loopholes in school management and lax parental supervision.
Meanwhile, the number of cases of criminal offenses by minors, including robbery, theft or intentional injury are also rising. That has attracted attention from the public and media.
According to the SPP, more than 42,000 people who sexually abused, trafficked or tortured minors were prosecuted last year-an increase of 10 percent from 2016.
On the other side-criminal behavior by minors-prosecutors arrested 26,100 young suspects and declined to arrest 13,100 others. They prosecuted 39,000 minors and canceled charges for 8,800.
"Children are said to be the hope of their families and the future of the country. But they are vulnerable. If there is something wrong with one child, it will harm one family. If one group of children go wrong, it will endanger the future of one country," the SPP said in its statement.
Better investigations in cases involving juveniles will bring a practical sense of "achievement, security, happiness and future expectations for every family, kindergarten and school. We will think deeply about how to prevent juvenile crime-using proper measures to help both the minor offenders and young victims," said Zhang Jun, procuratorgeneral at the SPP.
As of October, 24 prosecuting departments specializing in cases involving minors had been established in people's procuratorates at the provincial-level, the SPP said.
In addition, more than 7,000 prosecutors from 1,000 agencies under the prosecuting departments are tackling such cases, it said.