China: Lawmakers Considering Harsher Punishment for Human Trafficker

Friday, July 3, 2015

China’s top lawmakers are considering tougher punishments for all parties involved in human trafficking, including those who buy abducted children.
The 9th draft amendment to the Criminal Law was submitted to the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress earlier this week.
It comes amid continuing discussions on China’s social media outlets about whether or not child traffickers should be sentenced to death.
The amendment advocates “light punishment” for buyers who don’t harm abducted children or hinder police rescue of the victimized children.
At present, such buyers would likely be exempt from punishment.
He Youlin, a member of the NPC Standing Committee, says this indeed gives a free reign to the act of children trafficking.
“Those who buy children can get lesser punishment or even an exemption only because they don’t ill-treat the abducted children or appear cooperative in rescue operations. But will it embolden those possible buyers? We should take it seriously.”
Child trafficking has been rampant for a long time in rural China, especially in poverty-stricken southwestern regions. Some pregnant women have been found to have sold their own children.
The traditional preference of boys over girls, especially in the countryside, has also been blamed for boosting the trade.
Some rural residents who don’t have a boy would like to buy one, which many law experts say fuels demand.
Jiang Zhuangde is also taking part in the discussion of the amendment. He backs harsher punishments for child buyers.
“The effort to crack down on child buyers is obviously not enough. The current penalties are too light to deter the offenders. The huge demand is another major reason why child trafficking becomes rampant. Those who buy children should face criminal penalties or harsher punishment at least.”
According to the Supreme People’s Court, nearly 13,000 people involved in trafficking were punished between 2010 and 2014 with over 1/2 receiving sentences ranging from at least 5 years in prison to the death penalty.
Under the current law, child traffickers can be sentenced to a maximum of 10 years in prison. If more than 3 victims are involved or if there are casualties, the punishments can rise to life in prison or death.
A recent poll on Sina.com showed over 92 % of the more than 21,000 respondents recommended that the same punishment imposed on child traffickers should also be applied to buyers.
Source: CRI.English, July 2, 201
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