Jan 16, 2009

World - SKorea opens clinic to chemically castrate sex offenders

SEOUL (AFP) – South Korea on Thursday opened the country's first state-run clinic to chemically castrate sex offenders, officials said.

A therapy using drugs, hormones and other ingredients to lower an offender's sex drive will be offered to rapists or paedophiles who opt for the treatment, the Justice Ministry said in a statement.

Ministry officials said the treatment aimed to prevent recidivism.

"It is the country's first such clinic," Heo Sang-Gu, director at the ministry's anti-crime planning bureau, told AFP as the clinic opened at the National Institute of Forensic Psychiatry in Gongju city 160 kilometres (100 miles) south of Seoul.

"They can refuse to take the prescribed treatment, which will however prolong their custody longer than necessary."

Under South Korean law sex offenders can be detained for treatment for as long as 15 years, he added.

The ministry said the clinic, now capable of treating 100 patients, would be expanded to accept some 300 by next year.

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