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China Focus: Releasing information on convicted child sex offenders stirs debate

Xinhua,December 07, 2017 Adjust font size:

NANJING, Dec. 7 (Xinhua) -- News of a Chinese court releasing the personal information of convicted child sex offenders has been drawing praise as well as concerns about privacy.

On Dec. 1, a court in Huaiyin district, Huai'an city in east China's Jiangsu Province, issued the verdicts of four cases of sexual crimes against minors and would release the personal information of the offenders within a month, according to a government policy.

Three days before the ruling, the district government issued the policy that all convicted child sex offenders would have their personal information made public, including names, ID card numbers, photos, ages, genders and the nature of the crime.

The information will be available to the public on websites of law enforcement authorities and social networking platforms.

Zheng Bin, deputy chief procurator of the district, said the criminals, after being released, will not be allowed to hold jobs that would bring them into contact with children.

He said institutions including schools, paediatric hospitals, security companies, and zoos should search on the relevant websites when recruiting, and the procuratorate will supervise the recruitment process of such institutions.

Child sex offenders usually have a high rate of recidivism, according to Zheng.

"The sexual abuse of minors is not only difficult to expose, but also can easily become repetitive," said Song Yinghui, a researcher at Beijing Normal University.

"The current social management mechanism cannot effectively oversee criminals after they are released," said Chen Shanshan, a law professor with Suzhou University.

Chen said that public access to the information can place offenders under supervision and reduce the chances of them to committing such crimes again.

The city of Cixi in Zhejiang Province and Shanghai's Minhang District issued similar policies in June 2016 and July 2017 respectively.

Many Chinese have voiced their support for the court saying that the measures will help protect children, while some also brought up the issue of privacy of criminals and their families.

Zhang Rongli, a law professor with China Women's University, said that information about the crimes is not solely related to the privacy of criminals, but is also public information which should be properly used.

According to a regulation on the online publication of verdicts issued by the Supreme People's Court of China which became effective on Jan. 1, 2014, it is not an infringement on the criminals' privacy to re-release information about their case which has already been made public.

Chen argued the information being made public by the district court also includes photos and other information that did not appear in the verdicts.

"There is still a lack of legal basis to release the personal information of criminals," she said, suggesting that more work should be done to improve the legal system so that the policy can be promoted at a higher level with more support systems in place.

A commentary published Tuesday in The Mirror, a newspaper on legal affairs, said that publicizing criminals' information may prevent them from re-integrating into society, and also affect the lives of their relatives.

Song suggest that the scope, channels and procedures for releasing criminals' personal information should be further discussed. More effort should be made to protect the rights of criminals' family members, he added.

In countries such as the United States, the Republic of Korea and Japan, similar moves have been taken to make the information of child sex offenders available to the public, according to Miao Weiming, a professor with East China University of Political Science and Law. Enditem