Mandatory Chemical Castration: Law, Efficacy and Human Rights

Project: Research

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This research addresses the legitimacy of mandatory chemical castration as aresponse to pedophile offenses. Should states compel men convicted of sexual offensesagainst children to undergo (reversible) chemical castration as part of their punishmentand rehabilitation programs? Is chemical castration an effective method to controlpedophile offenders and provide the greatest protection to society? Does chemicalcastration as mandatory state policy comply with generally recognized norms ofinternational human rights law?The effectiveness of mandatory chemical castration turns on the issue of publicsafety, considered use of scarce state funds and ease of subverting the effects of thedrugs. Many sex offenders are motivated out of a deviant need to exert dominance overtheir victims, something chemical castration does not address. Moreover, certain drugscan be used to counter-act the effects of chemical castration such as the steroidtestosterone. States that adopt mandatory chemical castration run the risk of relying onit as a panacea at the cost of other more effective means of curbing pedophile behavior.Additionally, mandatory chemical castration may violate widely accepted principles ofinternational human rights law. These objections are grounded in theories of cruel andunusual punishment, violation of the right to privacy, right to procreation, and that it isa form of torture or cruel, inhumane and degrading treatment or punishment. Arguably,mandatory chemical castration is unnecessary in relation to the gravity of the problemand the existence of other treatment/punishment modalities and it disproportionatlyimpacts the human rights of the offender. Additionally, non-compulsory chemical (orphysical) castration may violate the human rights of the offenders as the accused maylack the requisite voluntariness for true consent.The importance of this research is manifest as a number of countries have alreadyenacted mandatory chemical castration (e.g., Moldavia, Russia, South Korea, etc.) and afar larger number are contemplating it. Mandatory chemical castration represents amajor departure from previous practices and will greatly impact criminal and humanrights law as well as the study of criminology. Yet, there is scarcely any literature on thispoint, creating a lacuna in the scholarship. The value of this work is that it can assistpolicy-makers and stake holders in the criminal justice system to realistically appraisewhether mandatory chemical castration is a legitimate response to pedophile offenses.


Project number9042292
Grant typeGRF
Effective start/end date1/01/1610/05/19

    Research areas

  • pedophile offenders,human rights ,chemical castration,effective punishment policy,