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Dear Editor: Human rights are non-negotiable; Senator’s suggestion to castrate paedophiles is wrong

“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:

Photo: Independent Senator Dr Varma Deyalsingh.

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’.

Photo: Chemical castration is legal in several countries including the United States.

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).

Alan Turing OBE FRS was an English mathematician, computer scientist, logician, cryptanalyst, philosopher and theoretical biologist, who is widely considered to be the father of theoretical computer science and artificial intelligence.
His role in helping the Allied forces defeat the Nazis in World War II was the subject of the movie, The Imitation Game.

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.

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8 comments

  1. <>

    I find the article fortunate, because it has clearly pointed to the dangers of disrespecting the well protected rights of the seemingly ‘lowest people’ in society.

    The letter was not offensive in the slightest. Not because ‘somebody’ feels offended by making ridiculous associations that hurts their own head, means that the letter is offensive.

    If anybody had read the letter properly, they would have seen that nobody ‘associated’ paedophilia with homosexuality – at all. Mrs Nathai-Lutchman clearly was making a point about the dangers of abrogating the rights of medicalised minority groups. The example of Alan Turing – being treated for homosexuality with the same sort of medications Dr Deyalsingh was championing for paedophiles – was only to draw out the dangers of that may arise. Some will know that there was no conclusive evidence that Alan Turing was ever cured of his homosexuality having been forced to take those medications. His rights were ridden rough shod over, by the heavy handed overconfident British Empire. Turing suffered physically and mentally; eventually committing suicide.

    Today some people are oblivious to the evils inherent parts human nature, that came out in the two World Wars. Human rights were developed to put restraint on those evils. The Gods did nothing to stop the abuses and killings of approximately 100 million people. The battle to create Human Rights has been fought for 1500 years, and was finally won in 1948. Human Rights law has also be joined by a wide range of other International laws to address the wrongs that power-mad States, State-agencies, and individuals may deliver.

    Everybody – including prisoners or paedophiles – is equally entitled to their Human Rights being protected by the highest law operating in T&T and internationally. That was the big point. Some clearly missed it, simply because they were probably occupied with their own personal prejudices – incapable of thinking beyond dey own nose nuh. That is the more ‘unfortunate’ part of all this.

    Lawmakers, politicians and doctors in ‘the land of milk and honey’, need to know that the most important part of the exercise of power, is restraint.

  2. Well off to watch The Imitation Game. Always wanted to see it. Now I’ve renewed my interest in Turin

  3. Yeah I’m also uncomfortable with the association. Although it’s not really that he associates paedophilia with homosexuality. But he postulates that not too long ago homosexuality was so misunderstood that a genius like Turin was penalized for essentially “being gay” and was made to suffer castration. I guess to extrapolate that argument he’s thinking that who’s to say that years from now, that paedophilia wouldn’t come to be better understood and even decriminalized and accepted ‍♀️. I can’t really buy that.

    • Rose-Marie Lemessy-Forde I think paedophilia will become better understood, and possibly some situations treated as a health issue, but never accepted, because it involves a ‘victim’ just like murder or rape. Big big difference.

      • Paedophilia is a ‘health issue’. How? It is recognised internationally as a mental disorder. You can bet that the majority of paedophiles are not in prison, or receiving treatment with medications for their condition – and you’d win that bet easily.

        There are other mental disorders that are associated with sexual offending against children. One doesn’t need to be a psychologist or psychiatrist to know. All one needs is a basic ability to search the internet, to access that information.

    • Low-resolution thinking… the writer clearly stated it is an example of what happens when rights are ignored. I can give another example: WW2. First, the Nazi party rounded up ‘undesirables’ – including homosexuals. They ended up massacring over 6 million Jews, blacks, disabled, mentally ill etc.

      Turin’s basic human rights were steamrolled over by the British Government.

  4. I find the example in this article unfortunate and offensive as it seems to associate paedophilia with homosexuality.