San Diego International Law Journal


Max Hua Chen

Library of Congress Authority File


Document Type



The issue of post-conviction treatment of sex offenders has been the subject of debate and changes to State legislation, particularly in respect of paedophile offences. One such treatment method is through chemical or physical castration on either a mandatory or a voluntary basis. In this regard, some States have implemented these measures for certain paedophile offences. Hong Kong (HK) has no such laws in place. Researchers such as William Winslade and his colleagues highlighted that whilst paedophilia may not be a stringently defined condition, it is one which involves a “reinforcing [pattern] of sexual behaviors,” with the result that sexual abuses of children are likely to be not only repeated, but also of increasing seriousness. As there is some evidence, albeit limited by the fact that empirical studies have been unable to use meaningful control groups or comparisons with the individuals studied prior to the treatment, that surgical castration specifically, results in a “low rate of recidivism” in sex offenders generally. This low rate might suggest that castration offers a useful mechanism for protecting children and preventing reoffending. The prospect of protecting children through prevention would therefore appear to offer justification for assessing the merits of introducing post-conviction treatment of sex offenders in Hong Kong. As such, this Article will undertake a comparison between the use of castration on post-conviction offenders from a policy and human rights perspective in the United Kingdom (UK) and California, discussing whether some form of castration should be incorporated into the HK framework. The Article argues that whilst there may be human rights implications associated with both voluntary and mandatory castration for offenders, mandatory schemes for chemical treatment may be justifiable. In a context with evidence that HK recently sought to move towards greater protection of children, despite some “disapprov[al]” among the HK public of castration as a treatment, there is a justification for considering mandatory chemical castration as a treatment of post-conviction sex offenders in the State.