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Russia lawmakers considering chemical castration bill

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev [official profile; JURIST news archive] proposed a bill on Tuesday calling for, among other penalties, chemical castration of individuals convicted of sexual offenses against children. The bill, which seeks to deter such crimes, was sent to the State Duma [official website, in Russian], the lower house of Parliament, for further debate. Medvedev first proposed that the chemical castration procedure be voluntary [Ria Novosti report], but the United Russia [party website, in Russian] party, which holds a majority in parliament, contends that the procedure should be mandatory. In addition to providing a measure for compulsory medical treatment, the bill proposes life sentences as possible punishment for pedophiles who are repeat offenders. The State Duma Committee on Civil, Criminal, Arbitral and Procedural Legislation [official website] said [press release, in Russian] that pedophilia is a social evil and a disease that requires medical and psychiatric attention in addition to tougher penalties.

The chemical castration process consists of a series of chemical injections that hinder the effects of the male hormone testosterone. In an earlier version of the bill, punishment for sexual crimes committed against children would range from 20 years to life imprisonment [Library of Congress report]. A person would be eligible for parole and conditional early release only upon his voluntary request for and agreement to undergo medical castration. Several countries including Canada, Britain, France, Germany, Denmark, Israel, Norway, Sweden, Poland and some US states use the chemical castration process. In his annual address to Parliament [transcript text] last November, Medvedev emphasized the need for measures that protect children, including harsher penalties for those who commit sexual crimes against children.

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