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China to severely punish use of minors in organized crime
update:April 24,2020
BEIJING, April 24,2020 -- China on Thursday vowed to severely punish mafia-like organizations and criminal groups that use minors to commit crimes.
The Supreme People's Procuratorate (SPP), the Supreme People's Court and the ministries of public security and justice have jointly issued a set of guidelines to better protect the lawful rights and interests of minors, said Wan Chun, an official with the SPP, at a press conference.
The number of juvenile offenders involved in organized crime has been rising year by year, though their proportion remains small, according to Wan.
Data shows that the numbers of underage persons prosecuted nationwide for organizing, leading and participating in such crimes registered year-on-year increases of 410 percent and 29 percent in 2018 and 2019, respectively.
Underage persons were induced to join mafia-like organizations and criminal groups and were forced to turn themselves in by other members after crimes were committed.
Showing a tough stance toward criminals attempting to use the legal loophole, the guidelines required upholding the principle of harsher punishment throughout the entire case handling process from investigation to prosecution, court trial and ruling enforcement.
The guidelines stipulated that underworld bosses, key gangsters, crime planners, primary culprits and those directly making use of minors for organized crimes should be punished with lengthier terms.
From January 2018 to March 2020, procuratorates across the country have approved the arrest of 135,865 people involved in 46,173 cases of organized crimes, of whom 3,841 were minors.
Altogether 173,235 suspects involved in 28,091 such crimes have been prosecuted, including 7,277 minors.
The guidelines highlighted prudence in dealing with minors involved and a preventive approach to organized crimes involving underage offenders.
Despite the illegal acts they committed, underage offenders themselves are victims of gangs and criminal forces, SPP official Wan Chun said.
Minors who were exploited by mafia-like organizations or criminal groups and occasionally took part in organized criminal activities will not be regarded as members of the organizations or criminal groups, the guidelines said.
The document called on communist youth leagues, women's federations, education departments and schools to work in tandem and keep underage youths away from gangs and mafia-like groups as well as illegal activities. 
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