A Chinese court has ordered the death sentence for two men convicted of heading gangs that bought 82 children from their parents and sold them to families in Singapore, state media reports and an official said today.
An official in the publicity department at the Intermediate People’s Court in Quanzhou, a city in south-eastern China’s Fujian province, confirmed that Ke Jianxin was convicted on Wednesday of heading a syndicate that smuggled 38 children to Singapore between 1995-2002.
Another gang leader, Ke Pengjie, was sentenced to death on August 5 for selling 44 children, said the official.
According to reports in the state-run Shanghai Daily and Fujian-based newspapers, the smuggling rings were based in Anxi, a poor county in south-eastern China’s Fujian province that has a large emigrant population in Singapore.
The gangs paid between €495 to €1,400 for the children, who were “ordered” by Chinese families in Singapore and smuggled into the city-state on tourist visas, the reports said.
The Shanghai Daily report said none of the parents of the children were prosecuted for selling their offspring.
Singapore’s Home Affairs Ministry said it planned a statement later today. Officials at the Singaporean Consulate in Shanghai said they had no information about the cases.
China has been cracking down on the country’s thriving black market in babies, older children and women, some of whom are kidnapped, others sold off by their impoverished families.
Trafficking cases involving dozens of children are frequently reported in the state media, but reports of international child trafficking cases are rare.
Thousands of Chinese children are abducted or bought from poor families every year for sale to childless couples, a trade driven in part by birth control policies that limit most couples to one child.
The limit prompts some parents to kill, abandon or sell baby girls in hopes of trying again for a boy. Girls are also sometimes sold as brides in rural areas with fewer women.
Some international cases have involved children being smuggled overseas for cheap labour or to work in brothels.
A US State Department report in 2004 cited Singapore as a major centre for trafficking in sex slaves, with more than 100 women and girls likely brought in to work in the country’s sex industry each year.
The Singaporean government challenged that assertion, arguing that it had only two substantiated cases of forced prostitution in the previous two years.