News 06 Feb 14

Macedonia Launches Chemical Castration of Paedophiles

Macedonia has become the first country in the region to introduce chemical castration for persistently-offending paedophiles, while parliament also approved tougher jail terms.

Sinisa Jakov Marusic
BIRN
Skopje

Skopje | Photo by: Sinisa Jakov Marusic

The government-proposed change to the penal law which was approved by parliament on Wednesday allows the Macedonian authorities to introduce chemical castration as part of their attempt to crack down on paedophiles.

“We took the examples of Poland, Moldavia, Estonia, Russia, Great Britain, France and Germany who already have such therapies in place,” Social Affairs Minister Dime Spasov told parliament.

The process will see repeat offenders given chemicals intended to curb their sexual urges.

Under the changes, first-time offenders can opt for chemical treatment in exchange for a reduced jail term. Repeat offenders will be automatically subjected to chemical castration.

The administration of the chemicals will be carried out in specialised facilities every six months following release from jail.

The law change also envisages an increase in penalties from eight to a minimum of 12 years in jail for sexual assaults on children under the age of 14.

For more serious cases in which a child is seriously injured or dies as a result of the sexual assault, the minimum penalty was also increased from 10 to 15 years in jail. The maximum penalty for serious cases remains life imprisonment.

One of the main reasons that the Ministry of Social Affairs cited to justify the introduction of chemical castration was that the average jail term that convicted paedophiles have served is about six years, and many of them reoffended after they got out of prison.

In June last year, Macedonia published an online register of convicted paedophiles who have been released, containing their pictures, names and addresses. The Ministry of Social Affairs said that the list that now contains some 200 names was designed to increase children’s safety.

Macedonia was also the first country in the region to publish such a register, based on the example of several US states.

However, some human rights watchdogs have condemned the move, saying it will encourage people to take the law into their own hands.

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