The Council of Europe is urging the Czech Republic to suspend its program of surgically castrating convicted sex offenders after visiting hospitals and prisons in the former Soviet Bloc nation.
Sex offenders have a choice: stay behind bars or lose some parts
The Council of Europe's anti-torture committee on Thursday demanded an immediate cessation to the practice of surgically castrating convicted sex offenders in the Czech Republic.
According to news agency AFP, in a report published following visits to two Czech psychiatric hospitals and two Czech prisons, the committee said the practice "amounts to degrading treatment."
"Surgical castration is a mutilating, irreversible intervention and cannot be considered as a medical necessity in the context of the treatment of sex offenders," it said, adding that "the intervention removes a person's ability to procreate and has serious physical and mental consequences."
The report went on to say that "given the context in which the intervention is offered, it is questionable whether consent to the option of surgical castration will always be truly free and informed."
So far 50 sex offenders have gone under the knife
The report said investigators found there could be situations where patients or prisoners "acquiesce rather than consent, believing that it is the only available option to them" to avoid indefinite confinement.
Castration in Europe
This isn't the first time the Council of Europe has spoken up about the topic; they had already expressed their concern over the program back in 2007. Additionally, the use of surgical castration has sparked an international debate on how ethical it is.
The Czech Republic is the only nation in Europe that uses surgical castration as a means to punish sex offenders. However, Britain, France and Poland have started testing chemical castration.
Prague also has a chemical castration program, and since 2000, some 300 Czech patients have undergone the procedure, with a further 50 being surgically castrated, according to government statistics.
But the committee said Prague -- which has since taken the rotating presidency of the European Union -- had provided "inexact information" on the numbers.
Security crackdowns in the port of Calais have prompted more migrants to attempt the crossing underground through the Eurotunnel. The massive waves of migrants trying to get through has worried the British government.
A submarine found sunk off the Swedish coast and believed to be Russian raises questions. Is it a sign of a recent intrusion? Does it date back to WWI? It wouldn't be the first: the Baltic Sea is strewn with shipwrecks.
Halloumi, or hellim, cheese from the island nation of Cyprus has been approved for special EU status. The project underscored the challenges ahead as the country tries to end decades of division between north and south.
Just as the number of classical music lovers is expanding in China, Germany's National Youth Orchestra has broken records of attendance during its tour there. Some cultural quirks can be surprising for Europeans.