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Legislator targets laws helping troubled minors

Pub Date:2021-03-11 09:32 Source:China Daily

As a national legislator for four years, Fu Yuhang said the happiest thing was when her suggestions-offering juvenile offenders targeted rehabilitation and lowering the age of criminal responsibility-were accepted by China's top legislature and written into law.

"It was a highlight moment for me as it meant problems I found and collected from people around me were solved by the rule of law," said Fu, a deputy to the 13th National People's Congress, the country's top legislative body.

Fu, who is an environmental engineer from Sichuan province, carried her suggestion on differentiating correctional education for children with poor behavior and juvenile criminals to Beijing in March 2019 when she attended the second session of the 13th NPC.

It was lucky that I covered that year's session, as my accidental talk with her at the Great Hall of the People gave me a chance to keep following her suggestion and also helped me witness how the suggestion was finally written into law.

Fu said she proposed the suggestion that year after being shocked by frequent violent offenses by youngsters, and that many others around her, including teachers and parents, had similar concerns about juvenile crimes, especially those committed by children under the age of 14.

Based on the consensus, she told me she also conducted comprehensive legal research and visited a number of judicial experts before formulating and submitting the suggestion to the NPC.

"As an NPC deputy, understanding people's main concerns and bringing the problems they want to be urgently solved to State authorities is what I have to do," Fu said.

In October 2019, she came to Beijing again, attending the NPC Standing Committee's session and continuing to share her ideas with senior legislators on strengthening the prevention of juvenile crimes.

When deliberating what was then a draft amendment to the Prevention of Juvenile Delinquency Law with the committee's members, she called for close attention to be paid to crimes by the very young, noting that the minimum age of criminal responsibility-which was 14 in the Criminal Law-should be lowered and correctional measures for young offenders need to be more targeted.

Last year, both the laws were revised by the NPC Standing Committee, and Fu felt a great sense of fulfillment after seeing her suggestions absorbed in legal amendments.

Under the amended Criminal Law, which took effect on Jan 1, the minimum age of criminal liability has been lowered to 12 in special circumstances, with the stipulation that children aged 12 to 14 should be held criminally liable for intentional injury by extremely cruel means that leads to death or severely disables others.

Juveniles convicted of crimes who can be exempted from criminal punishment will also face special correctional education in accordance with the revised Law on the Prevention of Juvenile Delinquency, and such rehabilitation is different from that given to children for misbehaviors such as smoking or being addicted to the internet.

I also reported on the process of amending the two laws, seeing how Fu conveyed people's opinions to the top legislature and communicated with more lawmakers.

Regarding herself as a bridge between the public and authorities, she said, "A sturdy bridge that has closer ties with each side can play a bigger role in information exchange."

She lauded draft amendments to the organic law and procedural rules of the NPC, which are being deliberated at the ongoing fourth session of the 13th NPC, adding that the timely revision of legal documents is necessary.

The amendments highlight the role of deputies and urge the NPC and its standing committee not only to offer deputies more opportunities to participate in legislative work, but also to take advantage of technologies to facilitate them performing their duties, as the 2,900 or so deputies are from all across the country and do not stay in Beijing when the NPC is not in its annual full session.

"Such requirements could make the bridge stronger and closer with both sides," Fu said, adding that it will help meet the public's increasing demand for legislation in the new era.

Besides attending meetings of the NPC Standing Committee, Fu also showed interest in taking part in inspections of law enforcement, "as I want to know whether my suggestions work or not in practice".

As a journalist covering stories on the rule of law for more than a decade, I am really glad to see legislative activities in the country are becoming more open to deputies and the general public. Legislation has never been untouchable for us. Instead, it's around us.

Editor:Fanxi Feng

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