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The Supreme People's Procuratorate (SPP) has a new set of guidelines that will protect the privacy and reputation of juveniles involved in criminal cases.

Under the new guidelines issued today, prosecutors are to give juvenile criminal defendants, witnesses and victims "special protection." Chen Guoqing, SPP Director of Legal Policy Research, said "special protection" involves handling cases in a manner that is in the best interest of the juvenile. This will require prosecutors to ensure that the rights and dignity of juveniles are protected throughout the case.

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Consequently, the guidelines require that the names, addresses, photos and any other personally identifiable information connected to a juvenile shall not be made public. They also forbid the unnecessary leaking of information about the case or involved juvenile which might be gathered during the investigation of the juvenile's background.

"Special protection" also requires that juvenile defendants be made aware of what rights they have as an accused suspect and that they are given access to an attorney early on in the case. If the juvenile does not already have an attorney, the new guidelines make it the prosecutor's responsibility to notify the legal aid office so that an attorney would be assigned.

The guidelines also require that prosecutors respect the opinions of any attorney or defender who has been assigned or retained to represent a juvenile, especially in regard to background social investigation reports. The new regulations also stress that the focus of juvenile prosecution is not punishment, which is only a supplementary tool of the system, but rather to educate the juvenile offender.

Moreover, according to Chen, the guidelines call for the sealing of juvenile criminal records so that "youths can be accepted by society quickly after rehabilitation without facing discrimination."

The new regulations also call for the establishment of independent juvenile criminal case units where the prosecutors and investigators will receive specialized training to help them develop expertise in handling juvenile cases.