Monday, September 22, 2008

Poland considers castration of pedophiles<

Poland seriously considers introducing coerced treatment of pedophile attraction as part of the sentence for child sex offenders. The country's statistics show about 850 recorded cases of pedophilia a year.

Joanna Najfeld reports

The debate over castration for pedophiles was sparked by the shocking case of a 45-year old man accused of repeatedly raping his 21-year old daughter since she was fifteen years old. Commenting on that scandal, Prime Minister Donald Tusk said that he supports introducing coerced castration for pedophiles. According to the current regulations, the court may, but does not have to order therapy for a convicted child sex offender.

'I would like Poland to introduce chemical castration not on the criminal's request, but as part of the sentence. I know such an idea will meet with outrage of human rights defenders. What I am saying may be radical, but I don't think that we can classify as "human" those individuals, such creatures as pedophiles. I don't think defense of human rights applies in their case,' said Donald Tusk.

The Prime Minister's idea met with strong support. One poll have shown that 94% percent of society want radically stricter punishments for child sex offenders. Only 17% oppose chemical castration. According to another poll, one third of society, mostly young people, are convinced the best punishment for child sex crimes would be coerced surgical castration, which is a medically more effective method, as it involves amputation of the offender's testicles. Among those who support this solution is well-known journalist and writer, Wojciech Cejrowski, who said: 'Castration serves three purposes: number one - punishment, number two - prevention, but you have to cut off all of the tools, right? And number three - castration allows the criminal to be accepted back by society. For he is safe now. No more tools.'

President Lech Kaczynski has promised cooperation and support to introduce stricter law against pedophilia. Poland's Ombudsman Janusz Kochanowski suggested chemical castration could apply also in cases of adult rape.

Health Minister Ewa Kopacz said she thinks many mothers are waiting impatiently for the introduction of the new regulations. In her opinion, human rights -based counter arguments are out of place here. 'Whose rights are we defending? These people may be sick, but this is not just sickness, it is dangerous, it leads to crime against children,' she said.However, voices skeptical of more severe punishment for child sex offenders, have been raised too, though in very clear minority.

Head of the Polish Constitutional Tribunal said that the European Bioethical Convention, which he hopes Poland will ratify, bans treatment without consent of the patient.

Grzegorz Napieralski, leader of the post-communist Democratic Left Alliance, accuse the Prime Minister of trying to gain political support. So do radical leftist feminist groups.

Deputy head of the European Commission Jacques Barrot said Poland should forget about obligatory castration, as no European law will agree to that.

Justice Minister Zbigniew Cwiakalski confirmed international law may indeed prevent Poland from introducing surgical castration. What is possible, though, is a solution based on pharmacological reduction of sexual attraction. 'It's obvious that we cannot accept a solution that goes against European Union law or international law,' said Cwiakalski.

Coerced chemical castration for pedophiles is legal in eight American states. The radical American Civil Liberties Union lobbies against it, citing the rights of pedophiles. In the UK, an offender who agrees to chemical castration may have his sentence reduced. Some years ago an attempt was made to legalize coerced chemical castration for pedophiles and rapists in Italy - it failed however, having been ridiculed as too radical. Sweden, which has the highest rates of rape in Europe, bans coerced treatment of pedophile attraction.

Polish government officials started working on the new bill on pedophilia prevention some months ago. The initial draft proposed castration only for repeat offenders. Now the Prime Minister wants it to be "the strictest possible law punishing criminals who rape children". The new draft is to be ready within two weeks.