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Czech attorney qualifies sterilisation without consent as crime

Most, North Bohemia/Prague, 28.5.2007 19:05, (CTK)

The District State Attorney's Office, investigating the case of two Romany women who were sterilised allegedly against their will in a hospital in Most, has ruled that sterilisation of women without their consent is a crime, which is a breakthrough decision according to human rights activists, the Aktualne.cz server reports today.

The court made the decision two years after the first legal complaint against forced sterilisations was filed.

Most cases have been shelved.

The state attorney's office said that doctors violated the women's right as well as the law regulating sterilisation as they performed a treatment, which was not required by a life-threatening condition, without their consent.

The doctors thereby committed a crime of causing bodily harm, the server writes referring to the state attorney's decision.

The Human Rights League submitted both cases to Ombudsman Otakar Motejl in 2005 and he then filed a complaint.

The server reported that this is a crucial decision as the Czech law enforcement bodies have so far followed the stance of the Supreme State Attorney's Office from the late 1990s, according to which a doctor is usually not criminally liable for the cases where the patient did not give consent with the treatment, but the treatment was performed under the common rules of medicine.

Though the state attorney's office in Most qualified the forced sterilisations performed in 1993 and 1998 as a crime, it did not decide on concrete perpetrators. Since the cases were subject to the statute of limitations already, the attorney ordered the investigators to shelve the case.

However, the case is yet to be investigated by the Regional State Attorney's Office in Usti nad Labem, north Bohemia, Aktualne.cz writes.

Human rights activists have criticised the hospital in Most for having sterilised dozens of women from the Chanov Romany housing estate.

According to the Ombudsman's report, a woman from Chanov was sterilised in this hospital at variance with law even in November 2003. The Human Rights League filed a civil complaint over the protection of personality in this case.

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