The Council of Europe is urging the Czech Republic to suspend its program of surgically castrating convicted sex offenders after visiting hospitals and prisons in the former Soviet Bloc nation.
Sex offenders have a choice: stay behind bars or lose some parts
The Council of Europe's anti-torture committee on Thursday demanded an immediate cessation to the practice of surgically castrating convicted sex offenders in the Czech Republic.
According to news agency AFP, in a report published following visits to two Czech psychiatric hospitals and two Czech prisons, the committee said the practice "amounts to degrading treatment."
"Surgical castration is a mutilating, irreversible intervention and cannot be considered as a medical necessity in the context of the treatment of sex offenders," it said, adding that "the intervention removes a person's ability to procreate and has serious physical and mental consequences."
The report went on to say that "given the context in which the intervention is offered, it is questionable whether consent to the option of surgical castration will always be truly free and informed."
So far 50 sex offenders have gone under the knife
The report said investigators found there could be situations where patients or prisoners "acquiesce rather than consent, believing that it is the only available option to them" to avoid indefinite confinement.
Castration in Europe
This isn't the first time the Council of Europe has spoken up about the topic; they had already expressed their concern over the program back in 2007. Additionally, the use of surgical castration has sparked an international debate on how ethical it is.
The Czech Republic is the only nation in Europe that uses surgical castration as a means to punish sex offenders. However, Britain, France and Poland have started testing chemical castration.
Prague also has a chemical castration program, and since 2000, some 300 Czech patients have undergone the procedure, with a further 50 being surgically castrated, according to government statistics.
But the committee said Prague -- which has since taken the rotating presidency of the European Union -- had provided "inexact information" on the numbers.
A German has been sentenced to death in China. The 36-year-old man was convicted Tuesday of a double murder in Xiamen in 2010. Berlin has vowed to stop the execution.
The conflict in eastern Ukraine is entering a critical stage. An all-out war between Russia and Ukraine cannot be ruled out anymore, writes DW's Ingo Mannteufel.
Over 30 people have been killed in the last 24 hours, according to Kyiv, as heavy fighting continues in the Donetsk region. Meanwhile, aid workers search for a way to access those in need.
Germany's traditional state churches see that they need to make changes if they want to stop shrinking. Some are looking to the non-state churches for inspiration with practices like small group Bible studies.