Pretrial warnings expedite protection of minors

Updated: Jan 22, 2024 China Daily Print
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The Beijing People's Procuratorate disclosed several pretrial procuratorial warnings on Tuesday, showing how they successfully curbed the illegal admission of teenagers into entertainment venues and played a significant role in protecting minors.

Notices were sent by the Beijing Fengtai District Procuratorate to cultural and public security departments in 2021 after prosecutors found during a criminal case that some nightclubs and karaoke rooms had illegally permitted minors to enter and even asked them to provide paid hosting services.

The prosecutors suggested government agencies rectify the problem as quickly as they could, because many entertainment venues had seriously harmed minors' physical and mental health.

Under such pressure, several departments launched a campaign to fight behaviors that damage children's interests around schools, and investigated 63 entertainment venues, imposing administrative punishments on some of them. The authorities also conducted raids and regular inspections.

In addition, they enhanced education around the law for these businesses by distributing more than 140 posters and brochures clearly stating minors are not allowed inside.

Under the guidance of the prosecutors, the cultural department added 19 administrative penalties in accordance with the newly revised Minor Protection Law to ensure law enforcement was carried out in a timely and accurate fashion.

Zhang Ningyu, head of the ninth procuratorial office of the Beijing People's Procuratorate, said sending such notices enables prosecutors to better perform their supervisory duties to prevent crimes and protect the public interest.

Chinese prosecutors can initiate lawsuits to ensure public interest against administrators and businesses in an effort to press them into correcting improper behavior, according to the 2017 revisions to both the Administrative Procedure Law and the Civil Procedure Law.

Under the laws, public interest lawsuits cover various areas, including environmental conservation, food and drug safety, preservation of State assets and transfer of land rights, as well as juvenile protection and telecom fraud.

The laws allow prosecutors to send pretrial warnings to poorly performing administrators and individuals before they initiate such litigation if correction of irregularities is sought. If the agencies fail to rectify the problems, lawsuits will be launched.

While urging government departments to boost law enforcement, Zhang said: "Protecting minors is the responsibility of everyone. We hope more businesses can tighten their inspections on whether customers are children.

"Although the inspections will increase the workload, doing more may at least protect one more child," she added.

Yue Xiangyang, deputy head of the Beijing People's Procuratorate, said the capital's prosecutors have attached greater importance to protecting minors in recent years, with a comprehensive review of clues in which children's legitimate rights and interests might be infringed upon or at risk.

Besides entertainment venues, he revealed that prosecutors across the city have also urged hotels to check and record the identity of minors and adults staying with them.

Security inspections and visitor management in hotels should also be intensified, "and it's a must for these businesses to immediately report to public security bureaus if minors are found to be in danger", he said.

He cited data revealing that Beijing prosecutors dealt with 459 public interest cases involving minor protection from 2021 to last year, 437 of which were against administrators.

Pretrial warnings worked effectively in most cases, he said, noting that the procuratorates eventually initiated two lawsuits during the period.

In addition to regulating the management of entertainment venues, the city's government agencies were also advised to open patriotic education areas for children and to strengthen the management of traffic safety around schools, he added.

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