Abducted kids: China may punish buyers

BEIJING - Couples who buy abducted children in China will face criminal punishment under proposed laws that would remove their exemption from prosecution, reports said, as the authorities clamp down on the flourishing child trafficking industry.

More than 13,000 children were rescued by police in China last year, the China Daily said, with demand for stolen youngsters fuelled by a traditional preference for sons and a one-child limit for some couples.

The ninth draft amendment to the Criminal Law, containing revisions to laws on human trafficking and terrorist activities, among others, went to the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress on Wednesday for further deliberation.

Under the modified provision for child trafficking, anyone buying a child would not be able to claim immunity from punishment, but buyers would receive a less severe penalty if they did not abuse the child or attempt to hinder rescue efforts.

The amendment represents a big shift from the current situation, where those who buy children are likely to be exempt from all criminal liability.

About 13,000 people were punished for human trafficking in the five years from 2010 to last year, with more than half receiving sentences ranging from five years in prison to death.

The draft amendment also contains an expanded list of activities defined as terrorism.

China faces terrorist threats mostly from its restive western Xinjiang region, where some of the minority Uighur Muslims are agitating for separation.

The draft says those financing training programmes for terrorists should face more than five years in prison in addition to financial penalties and the confiscation of property. Under the current law, these punishments are applied only to those funding terrorist organisations or who perform terrorist activities.

Those recruiting and transporting personnel for terrorist organisations, terrorist activities and training programmes will face more than five years in prison in serious cases, says the draft law.

Those who prepare equipment or materials for terrorists, or who organise or take part in terrorist training programmes, should face more than five years in prison in serious cases, the amendment says. The same punishment should be given to nationals who contact overseas terrorist organisations or personnel, and to those who plan acts of terror.

The draft amendment was published in November last year, and 51,000 suggestions concerning its provisions were received from 15,000 individuals as of Dec 3.


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 26, 2015, with the headline 'Abducted kids: China may punish buyers'. Print Edition | Subscribe