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Russia lawmakers approve stricter sex offender law

The Russian State Duma [official website, in Russian] on Tuesday approved [press release, in Russian] legislation imposing stricter penalties for individuals convicted of sex offenses against minors. The legislation, initiated by Russian President Dmitry Medvedev [official website, in Russian; JURIST news archive], prohibits probation and sentence deferrals for perpetrators and provides that repeat offenders could face up to life in prison. Offenders are also permitted to voluntarily submit to chemical castration, a reversible process consisting of a series of chemical injections that hinder the effects of the male hormone testosterone. Offenders who are close relatives, teachers, or caregivers of child victims or employees of childcare institutions may be subject to more severe penalties. The legislation was passed by 354 of 450 voting members.

Medvedev first proposed that the chemical castration procedure be voluntary [JURIST report] in July, but the United Russia [party website, in Russian] party, which holds a majority in parliament had wanted the procedure to be mandatory. 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]. Several countries including South Korea [JURIST report], 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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