Legal aid aims to protect young victims
Minors who fall victim to crime but are unable to get fair compensation will
receive legal assistance and possible access to a relief fund - with a maximum
payout of 36 times the average monthly salary in their community, it was
announced on March 6.
The Supreme People's Procuratorate issued a guideline on strengthening judicial assistance to juveniles involved in legal disputes, aiming to provide more timely and targeted aid to protect their legal rights.
The guideline focuses on minors - those aged under 18 in China - who suffer disabling injuries or serious psychological trauma from crimes but do not receive adequate compensation.
Also included are minors injured in reprisals for being witnesses to criminal acts, testifying at trial, or those who suffer bodily harm in civil infringement cases, such as traffic accidents.
The guideline states that families who do not get timely or reasonable compensation for the death of a juvenile dependent will also be eligible for aid.
Local procuratorates will take into consideration the economic status of the family and a reasonable estimate of costs required for the affected minor's educational and daily needs, it said.
"The amount of financial relief will be based on the previous year's average monthly salary in the province where the case is adjudicated, up to a maximum of 36 times, with the possiblility of exceeding that amount under extreme conditions, including when the victim's injuries result in severe disability," the guideline added.
The SPP said, if necessary, the funds can be paid in fixed installments or placed in a third-party escrow account to strengthen supervision of the payouts.
Local authorities have been urged to respect the legal rights of minors, including safeguarding their human dignity and privacy, to avoid secondary trauma.
Besides financial support, the guideline said different sectors should work together to provide assistance. "Psychological support and counseling should be provided to those who suffer sexual assault or other such crimes," it said.
Procurators are also required to facilitate medical treatment and rehabilitation for those with physical disabilities or those experiencing difficult recoveries.
China has about 400 million minors, with more becoming victims of illegal acts in recent years. The development of judicial assistance and aid for minors is unbalanced, making it an urgent issue that needs to be resolved, according to the SPP.
Tong Lihua, director of a juvenile law research center in Beijing, said the guideline signals progress in the protection of minors and could help young people in need endure difficult times.
"The judicial aid is necessary in cases where the perpetrators are poor and cannot afford to pay compensation, which could be disastrous for minors undergoing difficulties," he said.