Czech Republic

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Czech Republic: Police drop charges against all 30 gay men living with HIV following Prague Public Health Authority ‘witch hunt’

17 Nov 2016
All criminal charges have been dropped against the 30 gay men living with HIV who were reported to the police by the Prague Public Health Authority earlier this year after they were diagnosed with an STI, Czech media report today. … More

Stop the Prague Public Health Authority’s persecution and intimidation of people living with HIV [Press release]

19 Feb 2016
Pan-European Networks of communities of people living with and affected by HIV, doctors and scientists call upon the Government of the Czech Republic to immediately stop the Prague Public Health Authority’s persecution and intimidation of people living with HIV, and … More

Czech Republic: Prague Public Health Authority initiates criminal prosecutions of 30 gay men living with HIV following an STI diagnosis

16 Feb 2016
Late last month, 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 … More

EATG seeks to ensure that Europe-wide standards of up-to-date scientific evidence limit overly broad HIV criminalisation

28 Oct 2013
EATG’s new position paper on prosecutions for HIV non-disclosure, exposure and/or transmission published last week recommends that the criminal law should only be used in extremely rare and unusual cases where HIV is maliciously and intentionally transmitted and that Europe-wide … More

Czech Republic: 18 year-old pregnant woman gets 2 1/2 years for HIV non-disclosure

02 Feb 2012
An 18 year-old pregnant woman from Eastern Bohemia in the Czech Republic, coinfected with both HIV and Hepatitis C, was sentenced to 2 1/2 years in prison last week for not disclosing that she was HIV-positive before having unprotected sex … More

Last reviewed 01 June 2017

Country overview

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 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". 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.

Specific laws

Specific law enacted No

Specific law criminalising HIV non disclosure, exposure, or transmission: No

Prosecuted using non-HIV specific laws: Yes

Prosecuted using both specific and non specific laws: No

Is non-disclosure actionable: No

Is exposure actionable: No

Is transmission actionable: No

Prosecutions

Number of prosecutions 5

Convictions

Number of convictions 5

One is currently on appeal.

Laws

Applicable laws

A new criminal code - Trestní zákoník, Zákon 40/2009 ( Criminal law Nr. 40/2009 ) - came into effect on 1 Jan 2010. 

There 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 (including 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.

Applicable key wording

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

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 appears 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 (Rudolf case) 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."

For the latest updates on these cases, see:

Change.org petition: Stop the persecution of people with HIV in the Czech Republic. www.change.org/p/european-commission-stop-thepersecution-of-people-with-hiv-in-the-czechrepublic

HIV Justice Network website: http://www.hivjustice.net/country/cz/

2015:The Government of the Czech Republic considered the introduction of mandatory HIV testing of certain at-risk populations, in particular men having sex with men. This measure was averted after intensive pressure, including through a  Letter expressing concern re Mandatory testing

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.

Further reading

Latest cases and news can be found at: http://www.hivjustice.net/country/cz/

Edwin J Bernard and Sally Cameron. Advancing HIV Justice 2: Building momentum in global advocacy against HIV criminalisation. HIV Justice Network and GNP+. Brighton/Amsterdam, April 2016. http://www.hivjustice.net/wp-content/uploads/2016/05/AHJ2.final2_.10May2016.pdf

Change.org petition: Stop the persecution of people with HIV in the Czech Republic. www.change.org/p/european-commission-stop-thepersecution-of-people-with-hiv-in-the-czechrepublic

Cases

Overview

No HIV-specific law, but a 2005 Supreme Court ruling (Rudolf case) confirmed that any condomless sex (including oral sex) by a person living with HIV can be prosecuted as “spread of infectious diseases”, to Section 189 of the 1960 Criminal Code. In addition, condomless anal sex can be prosecuted as “attempted grievous bodily harm”, to Section 222 of the 1960 Criminal Code. People with HIV who have condomless sex are considered to be criminals, as there is no defence of consent following disclosure of one’s HIV-positive status. The law also treats anal sex more harshly than vaginal or oral sex. See the Supreme Court of the Czech Republic (Rudolf case) and guidance, both in Czech.

There have been five prosecutions since 1988, four of gay men and one of a HIV-positive pregnant woman. Prosecutions of three of the gay men for HIV exposure occurred in 1988 and two in 2004 with sentences ranging from five months to three-and-a-half years.

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: http://www.hivjustice.net/country/cz/

While criminal investigations were initiated against 30 gay men living with HIV by Prague's Public Health Authority in January 2016, the most recent conviction took place in May 2015. A gay man living with HIV was sentenced to six years in prison for attempted grievous bodily harm. The case was based on a number of accusations of oral sex together with one disputed accusation of condomless anal sex, and another of continuing with anal sex for one second after a condom had burst. The Czech AIDS Society has been providing legal support. In June 2015, the Society filed an extraordinary appeal to the Czech Supreme Court based on the facts that (a) the court did not check the level of viral load of the client, and (b) the actual risk of HIV transmission in the above situations was close to zero. In August 2015, the Court suspended the judgment pending its final decision (Personal correspondence with Robert Hejzak,Board Chair and Jakub Tomšej, lawyer cited in Advancing HIV Justice 2).

For the latest updates on these cases, see:

Change.org petition: Stop the persecution of people with HIV in the Czech Republic. www.change.org/p/european-commission-stop-thepersecution-of-people-with-hiv-in-the-czechrepublic

HIV Justice Network website: http://www.hivjustice.net/country/cz/


Last reviewed 01 June 2017

Last reviewed 01 June 2017

Last reviewed 01 June 2017