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Rights group calls to ban Czech castration law

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  • Chris King
    February 5, 2009 -- Updated 2012 GMT (0412 HKT) Rights group calls to ban Czech castration law * Story Highlights * Council of Europe says Czechs should
    Message 1 of 1 , Feb 6, 2009
      February 5, 2009 -- Updated 2012 GMT (0412 HKT)

      Rights group calls to ban Czech castration law

      * Story Highlights
      * Council of Europe says Czechs should abolish it castration law
      for sex offenders
      * CoE says some choose castration fearing refusal means long
      jail sentences
      * Group alleges some choosing castration include non-violent and
      first offenders
      * Czech Republic defends procedure as voluntary and effective
      * Next Article in World ยป

      (CNN) -- The Czech Republic's practice of surgically castrating
      convicted sex offenders is "invasive, irreversible and mutilating"
      and should stop immediately, the Council of Europe's Anti-Torture
      Committee said in a report made public Thursday.

      The central European country castrated at least 94 prisoners in the
      10 years up to April 2008, when investigators from the Council of
      Europe, a human-rights forum, visited the Czech Republic.

      The Council of Europe condemned the practice as "degrading."

      The procedure is being performed even on first-time, non-violent
      offenders, such as exhibitionists, its investigation revealed.

      Prisoners have to request castration under Czech law, but many fear
      they will be jailed for life if they do not, the investigation found.

      "In practically all the cases, these patients indicated that their
      application was at least partially instigated by fear of long-term
      detention," the report said.

      "Some patients claimed that the treating sexologist had explicitly
      told them that surgical castration was the only available option to
      them and that refusal would mean lifelong detention."

      And it warned that some "significantly" mentally retarded people had
      been castrated.

      "In at least five cases, legally incapacitated offenders were
      surgically castrated," the report said. "In all of these instances,
      the court-appointed guardian had signed the consent form; in two
      cases, the guardians were mayors."

      The investigators found only two convicts who had spontaneously
      volunteered for castration, while others they interviewed said mental
      health staff specializing in sexuality had recommended it.

      "The other patients interviewed indicated that the treating
      sexologist had suggested surgical castration, in several cases within
      a week of the patient's admission to hospital," the report said.

      "Some of the sexologists interviewed by the delegation themselves
      affirmed that for certain patients there was no alternative treatment
      to surgical castration."

      The Czech Republic defends the practice as voluntary, saying
      castration aims permanently to reduce testosterone levels in order to
      diminish the offender's sexual urges.

      The process, officially called "therapeutic testicular
      pulpectomies ... are performed upon a written request of an adult
      man," the Czech government responded. It said the operation had to be
      approved by a committee of experts.

      "Prior to the performance of such intervention, the patient must
      express his consent with its performance. Castration is considered
      with respect to men who cannot manage their sexual instincts and are
      sexually aggressive," the Czech government said, saying the Council
      of Europe had not proven its case sufficiently for the country to
      abandon castration.

      It argues the procedure is effective in reducing repeat offenses.

      But the Council of Europe questioned the statistics on repeat
      offenses and said even if they were correct, castration was not an
      appropriate way to reduce recidivism.

      "The committee's delegation came across three cases in which sex
      offenders had committed serious sex-related crimes, including serial
      rape and attempted murder, after they had been surgically castrated,"
      the human-rights group said.

      "Surgical castration is no longer a generally accepted medical
      intervention in the treatment of sex-offenders," the report said.

      It said candidates for castration often received information about
      the procedure which was too technical to understand -- or no
      information at all.

      "Several patients who had undergone surgical castration told the
      delegation that they would never have applied for surgical castration
      had they been properly informed," the report warned.

      It condemned the practice as "an irreversible intervention that
      always leads to infertility and, in the long run, a significantly
      increased risk of osteoporosis," also warning of possible depression
      and changes in appearance.

      It said it was impossible to determine how many people had been
      castrated in keeping with a 1966 law.

      The Council of Europe delegation visited the Czech Republic from
      March 25 to April 2, 2008. It issued its report and the Czech
      response on July 23, 2008. It made them public on Thursday at the
      request of the Czech government, it said.
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