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(Oct 09, 2009) On September 25, 2009, the Sejm, the lower house of Poland's Parliament, approved a bill that in certain cases makes the administration of drugs to lower the sex drive mandatory for pedophiles. The draft law stipulates that judges, after consulting doctors, will order the use of drugs to lower the sex drive of persons released from prison if convicted of raping children under the age of 15 or close relatives. Other provisions in the bill increase the prison terms for incest and pedophilia, criminalize any attempt to justify pedophilia, and prescribe a sentence of up to two years' imprisonment for those who propagate such a view or who attempt via the Internet to seduce children under the age of 15. Only three Sejm deputies did not vote in favor of the bill's adoption. (Poland Backs Chemical Castration, BBC NEWS, Sept. 25, 2009, available at http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/8275236.stm; Gabriela Baczynska, Poland Okays Forcible Castration for Pedophiles, REUTERS, Sept. 25, 2009, available at http://www.reuters.com/article/newsOne/idUSTRE58O4LE20090925; Roger Boyes, Poland Set to Impose Chemical Castration After Outrage over Incest Case, TIMES ONLINE, Sept. 26, 2008, available at http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/europe/article4825252.ece.)

The government stated that the purpose of adopting such measures "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." (Baczynska, supra.) Some 84% of the Polish public supported the crackdown on pedophilia, according to a survey conducted for DZIENNIK newspaper in 2008. (Roger Boyes, Chemical Castration for Sex Offenders in Poland, THE INDEPENDENT, Sept. 26, 2008, available at http://www.independent.ie/world-news/europe/chemical-castration-for-sex-
offenders--in-poland-1482565.html
.)

However, some critics of the plan contend that the measures violate provisions of the Polish Constitution that prohibit cruel punishment; others fear that using medical treatment in such a manner risks a return to the compulsory sterilization of mentally ill patients. (TIMES ONLINE, supra.) In the view of Piotr Kladoczny of the Helsinki Foundation of Human Rights, moreover:

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 … . 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. (Baczynska, supra.)

(See also Bernadette Rainey & Karen Harrison, Pharmacotherapy and Human Rights in Sexual Offenders: Best of Friends or Unlikely Bedfellows? 3:2 SEXUAL OFFENDER TREATMENT (2008), available at http://www.sexual-offender-treatment.org/2-2008_02.html.) Reportedly, convicted sex offenders in the following other European countries may take testosterone-reducing medication on a volunteer basis: Great Britain, Germany, and Spain. Louisiana authorizes compulsory treatment of the convicted offenders under a law on administering to them sex-drive-lowering drugs. A number of countries, including Sweden, Denmark, Canada, the Czech Republic, and some U.S. states (e.g., California), permit voluntary physical castration. (TIMES ONLINE, supra; Tom Whitehead, Sex Offences Advisor Backs Castration, TELEGRAPH, May 20, 2009, available at http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/newstopics/politics/lawandorder/5351019/
Sex-offences-advisor-backs-castration.html
.)

The Polish bill on the use of chemicals to lower pedophiles' sex drive must still be approved by the Senate, the upper chamber of the Parliament. It is likely to be a mere formality, given that Prime Minister Donald Tusk's Civic Platform Party holds a majority of the Senate's 100 seats. (Baczynska, supra.) Tusk has been an outspoken proponent of harsher punishments for pedophilia. The impetus for the new measures was apparently a case of incest that shocked the nation when it came to light in 2008. (TIMES ONLINE, supra; see also Peter Roudik, Russian Federation: Criminal law and procedure - Parliament Discusses Using Drugs to Lower Sex Drive of Pedophiles, GLOBAL LEGAL MONITOR, Oct. 9, 2009, available at,/i> http://www.loc.gov/lawweb/servlet/lloc_news?disp3_1616_text.)

Author: Wendy Zeldin More by this author
Topic: Crime and law enforcement More on this topic
Jurisdiction: Poland More about this jurisdiction

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Last updated: 10/09/2009