By Reuters and BBC on-line,
September 28 2009
Convicts to undergo chemical castration on leaving prison to prevent such attacks
Poland on Friday approved a law making chemical castration mandatory for paedophiles in some cases, sparking criticism from human rights groups.
Under the law, sponsored by Poland’s centre-right government, paedophiles convicted of raping children under the age of 15 years or a close relative would have to undergo chemical therapy on their release from prison.
“The purpose of this action is to improve the mental health of the convict, to lower his libido and thereby to reduce the risk of another crime being committed by the same person,” a government statement said.
Prime Minister Donald Tusk said late last year he wanted obligatory castration for paedophiles, whom he branded ‘degenerates’.
Mr Tusk said he did not believe “one can use the term ‘human’ for such individuals, such creatures... Therefore I don’t think protection of human rights should refer to these kind of events.”
His remarks drew criticism from human rights groups but he never retracted them.
“Introducing any mandatory treatment raises doubts as such a requirement is never reasonable and life can always produce cases that lawmakers could never have even dreamt of,” said Piotr Kladoczny from the Helsinki Foundation of Human Rights.
“If somebody is of sound mind, we punish him. If he is sick, we try to cure him — that’s how it works in Polish law. This bill introduces both approaches. As far as I know, this makes our law the strictest in Europe on this issue,” Mr Kladoczny said.
The Bill that also enhances jail sentences for rape and incest, must still be approved by the upper chamber of Parliament — a mere formality as Tusk’s Civic Platform party holds a majority of its 100 seats.
At the same time, France’s political elite rallied to the defence of Mr Roman Polanski on Sunday, calling on Switzerland to free the 76-year-old film director rather than extradite him to the United States. Artists and film makers also urged the release of Mr Polanski, who faces charges of having sex with a girl of 13 in 1977, accusing Switzerland of being overzealous in pursuing the case.
Mr Polanski was due to receive a prize for his life’s work at the Zurich Film Festival on Sunday, but was arrested on a 1978 US arrest warrant after arriving in Switzerland on Saturday. French Culture minister Frederic Mitterrand said he was “stunned” by the news, adding that both he and French President Nicolas Sarkozy wanted to see the acclaimed director returned swiftly to his family.
“(Mitterrand) profoundly regrets that a new ordeal is being inflicted on someone who has already known so many during his life,” read a Culture ministry statement.
French Foreign minister Bernard Kouchner also issued a statement, saying he had spoken to his Swiss counterpart to demand that Polanski’s rights were fully respected and that a “favourable” solution be rapidly found.
Mr Polanski holds French citizenship and is married to French singer actress Emmanuelle Seigner. He has spent much of his life here since fleeing the United States in 1978, but regularly visits countries where he does not expect extradition woe.
Mr Robert Harris, a British novelist who said he had been working with Polanski for much of the past three years writing two screenplays, expressed outrage over the arrest.
“I am shocked that any man of 76, whether distinguished or not, should have been treated in such a fashion,” he said in a statement, adding, Mr Polanski had often visited Switzerland and had a house in Gstaad.
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