Authorities reiterate 'zero tolerance' approach in era of new technology
Chinese judicial authorities have pledged to maintain zero tolerance for sex crimes against children, revealing that those making use of the internet to rape or molest juveniles will face harsher punishment.
The Supreme People's Court, China's top court, and the Supreme People's Procuratorate, the country's top procuratorate, jointly issued a judicial interpretation on Thursday, specifying a number of situations in which people who sexually harm children could be heavily penalized.
The interpretation, which will take effect on June 1, clarifies that people who force or lure minors to have nude chats online, or ask them to send naked photos or videos, will be convicted of child molestation or indecency.
It also states that those who molest children, causing them injuries or self-harm, or make videos of the molestation to threaten victims, will be given tougher punishment.
The interpretation has made the clarification, "because we've found some criminals cheat juveniles online and sexually assault them in person, or even spread their naked or assaulted videos or pictures through the internet", He Li, chief judge of the top court's No 1 Criminal Adjudication Tribunal, told a news conference on Thursday.
She said that the combination of online and offline offenses has seriously harmed children's physical and mental health, and needs to be harshly punished.
On Tuesday, three male rapists were executed by courts in the provinces of Hubei, Shandong and Henan, after their death sentences were approved by the top court.
All the convicts were found to have tricked victims via QQ, an instant messaging app, and then used the girls, most from primary and middle schools, as targets for molestation or rape.
In the case of Shandong, for instance, Wang Xiaoshan was discovered to have raped five girls, including three under the age of 14, molested 14 others and assembled a crowd to engage in promiscuous activities, from late 2017 to January 2019.
Wang first lured and asked the girls to send him naked photos and videos through QQ, and then told them that he would disclose the pictures if they refused to go out with him. Finally, he took the victims to hotels and raped them.
"The interpretation will contribute to helping solve similar new problems in this internet era, with stronger protection for children," He added.
Considering some sex crimes against juveniles in recent years were committed by those responsible for child care, such as parents and teachers, the interpretation stipulates that multiple rapes of minors by this group of people will be identified as a "serious situation" of rape under the Criminal Law, meaning that the maximum punishment could be the death penalty.
On Thursday, the SPC and SPP also issued a guideline together with the Ministry of Public Security to streamline procedures of dealing with sexual assault cases involving juveniles.
The guideline, which will also come into effect on June 1, requires individuals and departments to take measures as quickly as possible if they find children suspected of being sexually assaulted or receive reports to that extent, whether or not it is their duty to do so.
The move is to further implement a mandatory system that orders people close to minors to report anyone suspected of doing harm to children to public security organs, according to Na Yanfang, head of the SPP's ninth procuratorial office.
She revealed that a total of 5,358 cases involving harm to children have been detected and handled since the system was set up in 2020, adding that most reports focused on sexual assault.