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Last Updated: Friday, 13 July 2007, 17:13 GMT 18:13 UK
Czech castration raises worries
By Alix Kroeger
BBC News, Brussels

Prisoner in silhouette
The authorities say castrations are done in accordance with the law
A European anti-torture watchdog has expressed "serious reservations" about surgical castration being used to treat sex offenders in the Czech Republic.

The Committee for the Prevention of Torture also expressed concerns about the use of chemical castration, and called for greater safeguards.

The Council of Europe committee questioned the freedom of consent for those undergoing the procedure.

The Czech government says castrations happened in accordance with the law.

In its report on the Czech Republic, the committee for the Prevention of Torture raised concerns about the use of castration, both chemical and surgical, in the treatment of sex offenders.

All the offenders sentenced to so-called protective treatment in psychiatric hospitals underwent chemical castration.

Unclear responsibility

Surgical castration was confined mainly to offenders who had committed murder, and only with their consent.

But the committee cast doubt on how free that consent could be, if the alternative for the prisoner was indefinite confinement in a psychiatric hospital.

The committee said it was concerned about the overlap between the doctors treating the offenders and the panel of experts responsible for approving the operation.

The Czech government said castration procedures were carried out according to law, but improvement in legislation would be debated this year.

One of the hospitals involved said the procedure was only used for repeat offenders, many of whom were alcoholics and individuals with learning disabilities.




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