“Human rights are non-negotiable and prisoners who may be paedophiles are not excluded. That is the law—even when we don’t like the results.
“[…] The implication of [Dr Varma Deyalsingh’s] statement is that the paedophile prison population is the cause of overcrowding and so chemical castration is proffered as the solution or part solution. The reality is quite different…”
The following Letter to the Editor on the issue of chemical castration for paedophiles was submitted to Wired868 by Ula Nathai-Lutchman, an international criminal lawyer and former pharmacist at St Ann’s Hospital:
Dear Sir/ Madam,
I was dismayed and disappointed when I read in the news that Senator Dr Varma Deyalsingh reportedly said, “I am a proponent of castration… something to be considered as the nation’s prisons are currently overcrowded” to a Special Select Committee (SSC) meeting on the Sexual Offences (Amendment) Bill, 2019 on 13 March 2019.
He submitted that several states in the US employ the practice of ‘chemical castration’. The SSC and Dr Deyalsingh are hereby informed that America is not as great as some may think.
Following the Second World War, the then US President’s wife, Eleanor Roosevelt (1884–1962), spurred the world to recognise the atrocities committed then and to create a Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) in 1948. This being said, in recent years there are serious questions emerging on America’s commitment to Human Rights.
Human rights are non-negotiable and prisoners who may be paedophiles are not excluded. That is the law—even when we don’t like the results. Those rights are well anchored in the Constitution which declares and recognises the existence of basic fundamental human rights and freedoms. Abrogation of prisoners’ human rights must only be undertaken with extreme caution.
The implication of the good doctor’s statement is that the paedophile prison population is the cause of overcrowding and so chemical castration is proffered as the solution or part solution. The reality is quite different. The overcrowding is due mainly to a judicial system that moves ‘slower than molasses’, and a penal system rooted in ‘the Dark Ages’.
The pertinent issues for the SCC to consider on chemical castration of convicted paedophiles are:
- Statistics on the prevalence of paedophilia as a medical condition, in prisons in T&T.
- The efficacy of anti-libidinals—not just anti-testosterone drugs—in reducing specific offending patterns of paedophiles.
- What might be the numbers needed to be treated to achieve expected legal and clinical outcomes.
- Evidence on how success of such treatment programmes may be evaluated.
- The medical ethical complications arising in such treatment programmes.
- The protections of prisoners’ Human Rights under the Constitution.
The above are only a few key matters among a multitude of others to be considered.
Dr Deyalsingh is a medical doctor and a psychiatrist. Medical practice and politics are a bad mix. It always has been and will continue to be in the foreseeable future.
Law and medical practice are already an uncomfortable mix. I therefore draw the SSC’s attention to an example of what happened when Rights are ignored.
Alan Turing—in 1952 in England, post-UDHR (Universal Declaration of Human Rights) of 1948—was convicted of gross indecency for homosexual acts. In relation to medical knowledge that homosexuality was a mental disorder underlying his offence, Turing was compelled to accept anti-libidinal medication (chemical castration).
History indelibly records the shame of medical involvement. It was only after 1973 that homosexuality was officially removed as a diagnosable mental disorder.
If robust ‘First World’ history, experience and evidence are not evaluated by the SSC, and lawmakers do not exercise due cautions in drafting legislation, the outcome is likely to be ineffective ‘Third World’ confusion.
The SSC and the T&T population ought to be sensibly informed on the issue of ‘chemical castration’. Evidence and opinions lacking depth and breadth, should be avoided. I urge the SSC to look much deeper and wider. Dr Deyalsingh would be best advised to be more circumspect.
“Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” – George Santayana.