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Forced castration

October 22, 2009

Polish lawmakers have approved controversial legislation aimed at minimizing the risk of repeat offenses by convicted pedophiles.

A child's doll with a blue dress lying on forest undergrowth
The new legislation comes after a drastic case of incestuous rape made headlines in Poland.Image: Bilderbox

Poland's upper house of parliament overwhelmingly passed a bill on Thursday that makes chemical castration mandatory for convicted paedophiles after their release from prison.

The former Polish justice minister Włodzimierz Cimoszewicz, who was the only lawmaker to abstain from the vote, warned during the parliamentary debate that a therapy forced upon a patient may infringe human rights.

A representative of the justice ministry countered that the envisaged chemical castration only dampened the sexual drive of offenders for a limited period and did not erase it for good.

The new legislation, which was already approved by the lower house last week, comes in the wake of a drastic case of rape incest in Poland which was reminiscent of the crimes of Austria's Josef Fritzl.

Widespread support for new law

Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk had called for stricter punishment for sex offenders after a serious case of incestuous rape came to light in September. In that case, a 45-year old man was charged with repeatedly raping his daughter who subsequently bore him two children.

"I want ... to introduce in Poland the most rigorous law possible regarding criminals who rape children," Tusk had said, announcing the measures at the time.

Seven hundred cases of paedophilia are reported to police in Poland each year, according to Polish justice officials.

Surveys show that most Poles favor the new bill, but human rights groups are threathening legal action, saying that the law is not only open to abuse but also likely to be ineffective in tackling sex crimes.

European Parliament members have also critized the bill, but at the same time they said that the bloc's authority in this case was limited, since criminal law was a matter for the individual member states.


Editor: Michael Lawton

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