Beijing (AsiaNews/Agencies) About 19 per cent of criminal suspects in 2003 were juveniles, up from 11.8 per cent in 2000, this according to Huang Jingjun, a delegate to the National People's Congress who spoke during the legislative body's plenary session. As evidence he cited the example of a youth detention centre, where 77 per cent of inmates were accused of violent crimes and 11 percent were being held for sex crimes.
Mr Huang explained that the main factors behind this growing social problem were low funding for education, a lack of attention from busy or absent parents and poor enforcement of laws to protect minors. Youth problems have been aggravated by easy access to illicit drugs and pornography. What is more, Mr Huang noted, is the fact that the rising youth crime was closely related to the widening gap in recent years between the rich and the poor.
"At present, a large number of idle and unaccompanied minors are turning up on the streets with no one to look after them, becoming a sort of reserve force for juvenile crime," he said.
Xiao Yang, president of the Supreme People's Court, reported on the activities of the country's courts. In 2004, he said, some 145,000 people received long prison sentences or the death penalty. Overall 700,000 offenders were tried and sentenced for serious crimes, 19 per cent of which either received the death penalty, life imprisonment or a minimum five-year in jail.
Under Chinese law, political dissent, even peaceful dissent, is considered a serious crime and is treated as a threat or a risk to national security. It provides the Communist regime the legal means to detain opponents.