In the midst of change
Today is July 5, which means that I've already finished a month of my internship. Despite the difficulties of remote work, it's been a challenging but enriching experience. I am lucky to work with the Beijing Children's Legal Aid & Research Center (BCLARC) at a crucial moment in China's child law history. The substantial amendments to the two laws related to the rights and interests of minors came into force on June 1, Children's Day. The "Law on the Protection of Minors" ("未成年人保护法") enlarged the comprehensive protection of the children's fundamental rights. At the same time, the "Law on the Prevention of Juvenile Delinquency" ("预防未成年人犯罪法") aimed towards preventing juvenile crimes. These two laws are closely related and will sufficiently change China's child law landscape.
BCLARC held conferences and made consultations with international experts in the field during the revision process to help incorporate the best practices into the new law. However, with the amendments coming into effect, the proclaimed policy reform on child rights has only started. BCLARC emphasizes that there is much work ahead to implement the law and continues to seek advice and feedback from various child law specialists. During my internship, I've already participated in editing the materials from the most recent conference, held in May, organizing the expert materials, preparing questions for different international experts, and working on the overview of the major law changes. Undoubtedly, even more work is coming ahead, which I hope to share with you in the later entries to this blog.
Meanwhile, I'd like to briefly overview the major amendments to the Law on the Protection of Minors. In October 2019, the revised draft was submitted to the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress (NPC) for the first review. The second review was conducted in June 2020. The third review was completed in October of that year. In May 2021, the amendment to the Law on the Protection of Minors was voted for and passed at the 22nd meeting of the NPC Standing Committee and came into effect on June 1, 2021. After the revision, the Law on the Protection of Minors was sufficiently enlarged, and the number of articles was increased from 72 to 132.
The law added and improved several crucial provisions. While the "Law on the Protection of Minors" was initially based on the "four protections" principle, incorporating four chapters on family protection, school protection, social protection, and judicial protection, the amendment expanded it to "six protections," adding "governmental protection" and "online protection.". For the first time, such fundamental principles as always listening to children's opinions when making decisions concerning them and establishing the national guardianship system were written into the law.
The amendment answered the public concerns and tried to meet the urgent needs of the protection of minors. Thus, it touched a wide variety of topics, from requiring child safety seats for the first time on the national level to establishing a sex offender registry. Most importantly, the law now specifies the concrete duties and responsibilities of local and federal authorities on all levels to provide and protect the stipulated children's rights. It should sufficiently increase the efficiency of the protections.
I'm looking forward to learning more about the changes to China's legislation and sharing them with you.