Czech Republic

Last updated on: 17 February 2016

Criminalisation of HIV transmission/exposure

Czech Republic
Whether Specific law enacted: 
No
Number of people prosecuted: 
4
Number of people convicted: 
4
Applicable law: 

Updates:

In 2016: January

Prague's Public health Authority initiated criminal investigations against 30 gay men living with HIV that had been diagnosed with a sexually transmitted infection (STI) during the previous year. The Public Health Authority appear to believe that since these men acquired an STI this is proof that they must have practiced condomless sex and have therefore violated Sections 152 and 153 of the Chech Criminal Code, which a 2005 Supreme Court ruling confirmed could be used to prosecute any act of condomless sex (including oral sex) by a person living with HIV as "spread of infectious diseases". See Discussion sections for details.

In 2015:

An amendment to Public Health Law was proposed which would have allowed the introduction of mandatory HIV testing of certain at-risk populations. See discussion section for details 

Appicable laws in English and Czech 

The criminal code section that applies is Trestní zákoník, Zákon 40/2009 ( Criminal law Nr. 40/2009 ) - came into effect on 1 Jan 2010. 

The is no HIV specific parliament-approved criminal law. However, to allow criminal prosecutions under §152 and §153, Government order Nr. 453 dated 7 December 2009 lists HIV as an infectious disease.  The new criminal code is based on the same legal theories as the 1960 code and punishes transmission of diseases (incl. attempts) even more severely.

Source (in Czech): http://business.center.cz/business/pravo/zakony/trestni-zakonik/

Full wording of paragraphs in Czech:

§ 145 Těžké ublížení na zdraví

(1) Kdo jinému úmyslně způsobí těžkou újmu na zdraví, bude potrestán odnětím svobody na tři léta až deset let.

(2) Odnětím svobody na pět až dvanáct let bude pachatel potrestán, spáchá-li čin uvedený v odstavci 1 a) na dvou nebo více osobách, b) na těhotné ženě, c) na dítěti mladším patnácti čtrnácti let, d) na svědkovi, znalci nebo tlumočníkovi v souvislosti s výkonem jejich povinnosti, e) na zdravotnickém pracovníkovi při výkonu zdravotnického zaměstnání nebo povolání směřujícího k záchraně života nebo ochraně zdraví, nebo na jiném, který plnil svoji obdobnou povinnost při ochraně života, zdraví nebo majetku vyplývající z jeho zaměstnání, povolání, postavení nebo funkce nebo uloženou mu podle zákona, f) na jiném pro jeho skutečnou nebo domnělou rasu, příslušnost k etnické skupině, národnost, politické přesvědčení, vyznání nebo proto, že je skutečně nebo domněle bez vyznání, g) opětovně, nebo h) ze zavrženíhodné pohnutky.

(3) Odnětím svobody na osm až šestnáct patnáct let bude pachatel potrestán, způsobí-li činem uvedeným v odstavci 1 smrt.

(4) Příprava je trestná.

§ 152 Šíření nakažlivé lidské nemoci

(1) Kdo úmyslně způsobí nebo zvýší nebezpečí zavlečení nebo rozšíření nakažlivé nemoci u lidí, bude potrestán odnětím svobody na šest měsíců až tři léta, zákazem činnosti nebo propadnutím věci nebo jiné majetkové hodnoty.

(2) Odnětím svobody na dvě léta až osm let bude pachatel potrestán, a) spáchá-li čin uvedený v odstavci 1 jako člen organizované skupiny, b) spáchá-li takový čin za stavu ohrožení státu nebo za válečného stavu, za živelní pohromy nebo jiné události vážně ohrožující život nebo zdraví lidí, veřejný pořádek nebo majetek, c) poruší-li takovým činem důležitou povinnost vyplývající z jeho zaměstnání, povolání, postavení nebo funkce nebo uloženou mu podle zákona, nebo d) způsobí-li takovým činem těžkou újmu na zdraví.

(3) Odnětím svobody na tři léta až deset let bude pachatel potrestán, způsobí-li činem uvedeným v odstavci 1 těžkou újmu na zdraví nejméně dvou osob nebo smrt.

(4) Odnětím svobody na pět až dvanáct let bude pachatel potrestán, způsobí-li činem uvedeným v odstavci 1 smrt nejméně dvou osob. Příprava je trestná.

§ 153 Šíření nakažlivé lidské nemoci z nedbalosti

(1) Kdo z nedbalosti způsobí nebo zvýší nebezpečí zavlečení nebo rozšíření nakažlivé nemoci u lidí, bude potrestán odnětím svobody až na jeden rok, zákazem činnosti nebo propadnutím věci nebo jiné majetkové hodnoty.

(2) Odnětím svobody na šest měsíců až tři léta bude pachatel potrestán, a) spáchá-li čin uvedený v odstavci 1 za stavu ohrožení státu nebo za válečného stavu, za živelní pohromy nebo jiné události vážně ohrožující život nebo zdraví lidí, veřejný pořádek nebo majetek, b) poruší-li takovým činem důležitou povinnost vyplývající z jeho zaměstnání, povolání, postavení nebo funkce nebo uloženou mu podle zákona, nebo c) způsobí-li takovým činem těžkou újmu na zdraví.

(3) Odnětím svobody na jeden rok až šest let bude pachatel potrestán, a) způsobí-li činem uvedeným v odstavci 1 smrt, nebo b) způsobí-li činem uvedeným v odstavci 2 písm. b) těžkou újmu na zdraví.

(4) Odnětím svobody na dvě léta až osm let bude pachatel potrestán, spáchá-li čin uvedený v odstavci 3 proto, že hrubě porušil zákony na ochranu veřejného zdraví.

(5) Odnětím svobody na tři léta až deset let bude pachatel potrestán, způsobí-li činem uvedeným v odstavci 1 smrt nejméně dvou osob proto, že hrubě porušil předpisy na ochranu veřejného zdraví. § 154 Společné ustanovení
Vláda nařízením stanoví, co se považuje za nakažlivé lidské nemoci.

§ 155 Ohrožení pohlavní nemocí
Kdo jiného vydá, byť i z nedbalosti, nebezpečí nákazy pohlavní nemocí, bude potrestán odnětím svobody až na jeden rok.

Key wording in the law: 

In theory applicable paragraphs and penalties are:

§ 152 Šíření nakažlivé lidské nemoci (Spreading of an infectious disease)
(1) whoever intentionally causes or increases the risk of introduction or spreading of contagious human diseases shall be punished by a prison sentence of 6 months of 3 years, punishment by disqualification, or forfeiture.
(2) An offender shall be punished by a prison sentence of 2 to 8 years. 
(a) they committed an act referred to in Subsection 1 as a member of an organised group.
(b) they committed such an act during a state of national emergency or war, during a natural disaster or other event seriously threatening the life or health of people, public order or property.
(c) by committing such an act they violated an important obligation arising from their employment, profession, position or function, or imposed on them by law.
(d) they caused grievous bodily harm by committing such an act. 
(3) An offender shall be punished by a prison sentence of three to ten years if they caused grievous bodily harm or death by committing an act referred to in subsection 1 on at least 2 persons. 
(4)An offender shall be punished by a prison sentence of 3 to 10 years if they caused death by committing an act referred to in Subsection 1 at least 2 persons

§ 153 Šíření nakažlivé lidské nemoci z nedbalosti (Spreading of an infectious disease by negligence)
(1) Whoever causes or increases the risk of introduction or spreading contagious human diseases out of negligence shall be punished by a prison sentence of up to 1 years, punished by disqualification, or forfeiture of items.

(2) An offender  shall be punished by a prison sentence of 6 months to 3 years, if,
(a) they committed an act referred to in Subsection 1 during a state of national emergency or war, during a natural disaster or other event seriously threatening the life or health of people, public order or property.
(b) by committing such an act they violated an important obligation arising from their employment, profession, position or function, or imposed on them by law, or
(c) they caused grievous bodily harm by committing such an act 

(3) An offender shall be punished by a prison sentence of 1 to 6 years, if, 
(a) they caused death by committing an act referred to in Subsection 1, or
(b) they caused grievous bodily harm by committing an act referred to in Subsection 2 Paragraph b).

(4) A prison sentence of 2 to 8 years shall be imposed upon an offender if they committed an act referred to in Subsection 3 and thus grossly violated the laws for the protection of public health.

(5) A prison sentence of 3 to 10 years shall be imposed on an offender if they caused the death of at least 2 persons by committing an act referred to in Subsection 1 and thus grossly violated the laws for the protection of public health

§ 155 Ohrožení pohlavní nemocí (Endangering by sexually transmitted disease)
Imprisonment up to 1 year

In practice in criminal prosecutions state attorneys and courts have used and are instructed to continue to use § 145 Těžké ublížení na zdraví (Serious bodily harm) ... “indirectly” intended according to § 15 Úmysl (Intention).
(1) A crime is committed intentionally if an offender
a) wanted to infringe or endanger an interest protected by the law, (direct intention), or
b) knew that his/her conduct may cause such infringement or exposure, and was made aware of it (indirect intention)

§ 145 Těžké ublížení na zdraví (Serious bodily harm)
(1) imprisonment from 3 to 10 years if: direct or indirect intend, includes attempt
(2) imprisonment from 5 to 12 years if: two or more victims, repeatedly,
(3) imprisonment from 8 to 16 years if: causes death

Key Cases: 

There have been three prosecutions of gay men, one 1988 and two in 2004, all for HIV exposure. All of the accused were gay men. Sentences ranged from five months to three-and-a-half years.

A 2005 ruling by the Supreme Court of the Czech Republic stated that any unprotected sex (including oral sex) by a person living with HIV is contrary to Section 189 of the 1960 Criminal Code: “spread of infectious diseases”. Unprotected anal sex is additionally considered to be “attempted bodily injury” (Section 222). No defence can be claimed for obtaining a partner’s consent following disclosure of one’s HIV-positive status.

In January 2012, an 18 year old HIV-positive pregnant woman was sentenced to 2 1/2 years imprisonment for having unprotected sex. The judge Miroslav Veselský classified the crime as intentional serious bodily harm, even though the woman's partner was not infected.  Further information on the case (in English) can be found at: Criminal HIV Transmission.

Discussion: 

2016, January: Prague's Public Health Authority initiated criminal investigations against 30 gay men living with HIV that had been diagnosed with sexually transmitted infection (STI) during the previous year.

The Public Health Authority appear to believe that since these men acquired an STI this is proof that they must have practiced condomless sex and have therefore violated Sections 152 and 153 of the Czech Criminal Code, which a 2005 Supreme Court ruling confirmed, could be used to prosecute any act of condomless sex (including oral sex) by a person living with HIV as "spread of infectious diseases."

This is an alarming development.
For more information on this go to the 
HIV Justice Network website.
To sign on to a Change.org peption protesting against this go 
here.:  April 2015:

2015:The Government of the Czech Republic is currently considering the introduction of mandatory HIV testing of certain at-risk populations, in particular men having sex with men. Please click for Letter expressing concern re Mandatory testing. Thankfully this was avarted after serious pressure 

In addition to the Criminal Code, § 53 of the Czech Public Health Code Nr.  258/2000 Coll. requires all people with HIV, including foreign visitors, to disclose his/her HIV status prior to any medical examination and treatment.

Additional Public health regulations:

(1) A natural person, who has been infected by a human immunodeficiency virus, and a natural person, who, following typhoid fever, paratyphoid fever A, B and C, bacillary dysentery, salmonellosis, diphtheria, viral liver inflammation B, C and D, tuberculosis, syphilis and gonorrhea, secretes infectious germs for a prolonged period of time, where such fact has been notified to him(her) or the legal representatives thereof (hereinafter a "carrier"), shall be obliged

a) to undergo medical supervision, necessary laboratory examination, treatment and other epidemiological measures,

b) to follow the instructions of the doctor on protection of other natural persons against transfer of a contagious disease of which (s)he is a carrier,

c) not to carry out activities in which the health of other natural persons would be endangered given the fact of him(her) being a carrier,

d) to inform the doctor of the fact of him(her) being a carrier, prior to examination or medical operation and on admission to institutional care; if the carrier has lost consciousness, (s)he shall do so immediately when enabled by his(her) health condition,

e) to disclose the fact of him(her) being a carrier at his(her) admission to a facility of social care,

f) to provide his(her) physician, with whom (s)he is registered,11) with personal data (name, surname, date of birth, place of permanent and temporary residence), data on employment and changes in such data

 

Survey respondents/Organisations working on HIV and the Law: 

Source of information for update: a PLHIV in the Czech Republic who prefers to remain anonymous.

Further reading: 

Other laws and policies with an impact on responses to HIV

Laws and regulations relating to entry, stay or residence in the country: 

There are no specific entry or residency restrictions for people with HIV/AIDS in the Czech Republic. No test certificate or mandatory testing is required at entry.

According to information from the National AIDS programme, the Health Ministry has cancelled the requirement of HIV tests for long term visa applicants.

For updated information, please go to: www.hivrestrictions.org

Laws relating to same sex, sexual relations: 

Male to Male relationships: Legal

Punishments for male to male relationships:  No law

Female to Female Relationships: Legal

Age of consent:  Equal for heterosexuals and homosexuals

Marriage and Substitutes for Marriage: Inferior substitute but nationally recognized

For updated information, please go to: http://ilga.org