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Russia: Harsher Punishment for Crimes Against Children

(June 14, 2011) It was reported on May 10, 2011, that a bill aimed at increasing punishments for sexual crimes committed against children has been drafted by the administration of the Russian Federation President and will be introduced to the legislature in September. It is expected that amendments to the Russian Criminal Code proposed by the bill will be passed before the end of the 2011 legislative session. (Conference on Improvement of the Judiciary [chaired by the President of the Russian Federation] [in Russian], President of Russia official website (May 10, 2011).)

According to the bill, sexual crimes committed against children will be punished by at least 20 years of imprisonment; under aggravating circumstances, the punishment can be life imprisonment. The only condition on which a sentenced person may become eligible for parole and conditional early release is at his voluntary request for and agreement to undergo medical castration. (Anastasiia Berseneva, Kastratsiia po Zakonu [Castration Under Law] [in Russian], GAZETA.RU (May 10, 2011).) The procedure will be performed, under the supervision of a medical commission, by the injection of medicines aimed at terminating testosterone production. It must be carried out no later than one month before the convict's expected release from prison. Because the effect of the drugs is not permanent, an individual will be obligated to continue treatment for the time period he remains out of prison for the duration of his full original prison term. Local probation officers will be required to monitor the person's receipt of injections. (Id.)

Additionally, the bill proposes to eliminate the statute of limitations for sexual crimes against children in Russia, which at present is 8 or 15 years, depending on the circumstances. According to Russia's children's rights ombudsman, many of the perpetrators currently go unpunished because children who are victims of sexual crimes either do not understand what happened to them or are afraid to report the crimes. It is expected that, under the amended provisions, the child victims would have the right, even many years after they have become adults, to report their victimizers. (Id.)