France

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HIV Justice Network presents important new HIV criminalisation data today at AIDS 2016

21 Jul 2016
Today, at the International AIDS Conference in Durban, the HIV Justice Network and GNP+ will present important new data on HIV criminalisation based on updated research from our Advancing HIV Justice 2 report. Global Trends in HIV Criminalisation (Download the … More

France: National Aids Council President, Patrick Yeni, on why HIV criminalisation remains a problem for France

04 Apr 2016
A year ago, in April 2015, the French National AIDS and Viral Hepatitis Council (Conseil national du sida et des hépatites virales, known simply as ‘CNS’) following extensive research into the law, nature of complaints and prosecutions, and their impact, … More

France: Controversy over ‘intentional’ exposure and transmission conviction for man previously imprisoned for ‘reckless’ HIV transmission

03 Oct 2014
Yesterday, the Assize Court of Bouches-du-Rhône in the south of France sentenced  Christophe Morat, aged 40, to twelve years’ imprisonment, after having found him guilty of “administering a harmful substance with intent to cause permanent disability or mental impairment”. There … 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

Video toolkit: How to advocate for prosecutorial guidelines

30 May 2013
New guidance from UNAIDS to limit the overly broad use of criminal laws to regulate and punish people living with HIV who are accused of HIV non-disclosure, exposure and/or transmission, recommends that: Countries should develop and implement prosecutorial and police … More

Video: Seminar on HIV Criminalisation, Berlin, 20 September 2012 (EATG/DAH/IPPF/HIV in Europe)

23 Oct 2012
This international conference on the criminalisation of HIV non-disclosure, potential or perceived HIV exposure and non-intentional HIV transmission took place at the Rotes Rathaus in Berlin on 20th September 2012. HIV advocates, law and human rights experts and other concerned … More

France: Untested gay man found criminally liable for two previous partners’ HIV acquisition

21 Feb 2012
A 39 year-old gay man who was so in denial of the possibility that he might have been HIV-positive that he refused to take an HIV test until 2007 has been found criminally liable for infecting two former partners in … More

France: Man sentenced to five years for alleged transmission during one-off unprotected sex encounter in 1999

29 Mar 2011
A 40 year old man has been found guilty of administering a harmful substance to one’s spouse or common law husband/wife with the consequence of lifelong impairment (“administration de substance nuisible par conjoint ou concubin ayant entraîné une infirmité permanente”) … More

France: Gay man imprisoned for two years for infecting partner; trial debates shared responsibility

17 Nov 2010
A gay man from the eastern French city of Besançon was sentenced to two years in prison last week for lying about his recently-learned HIV-positive status and then having unprotected sex with his ex- partner who is now also HIV-positive. … More

France: Man sentenced to five years for infecting current, former partners and baby

16 Nov 2009
A 31 year-old man from Perpignan in south-west France has been found guilty of “transmission of a harmful substance causing permanent disability” and sentenced to five years in prison, although 3½ years of the sentence is suspended. He will also … More

France: Appeal court upholds three year sentence for HIV transmission

16 Sep 2009
The Court of Appeal in Aix-en-Provence has upheld the three year sentence handed down by a Marseille Criminal Court in June 2008 to a man who pleaded guilty to “administering a harmful substance causing disability or permanent disability” after having … More

France: Man kills HIV-positive woman following HIV disclosure, claims temporary insanity

18 Aug 2009
A 25 year-old man from Saint-Etienne in eastern-central France has confessed to killing his girlfriend after she told him she was HIV-positive. It is unclear, however, whether the two had slept together before the disclosure. So far the story has … More

France: Woman receives five year suspended sentence for HIV transmission to ex-husband

05 Dec 2008
On Wednesday, a 39 year-old HIV-positive woman from Orleans in north-central France was found guilty of the French crime of “administration de substance nuisible par conjoint ou concubin ayant entraîné une infirmité permanente” (administering a harmful substance to one’s spouse … More

France: Marseille man facing three years for HIV transmission

09 May 2008
Much of the French press featured this Reuters story from Marseille on Wednesday. A rough translation reads as follows (French original below): Marseille man should be imprisoned for three years for AIDS transmissionReuters – Wednesday May 7, 21:23 MARSEILLE (Reuters) … More

France: Gay man indicted for HIV transmission

10 Aug 2007
http://v2.e-llico.com/article.htm?rubrique=actu&articleID=16016 (Translation by Sylvie Beaumont, NAM) A 25 years old gay man, suspected of having voluntarily contaminated partners with the AIDS virus during non-protected sex has been indicted on Thursday. The young man was indicted for “administration of harmful substances … More

Last reviewed 01 June 2017

Country overview

Administration of harmful substances causing physical or psychological harm to another person. Law could theoretically apply to other infectious diseases but in practice has only ever been applied to HIV.

 Any person who knows they have HIV and who has condomless sex with an uninfected partner, and who acts with knowledge of this risk, may be prosecuted, regardless of whether or not the virus is transmitted. Condoms are currently the only defence to a transmission charge. Disclosure is neither required nor a defence. However, all prosecutions have been initiated as a result of alleged non-disclosure.

French National AIDS and Viral Hepatitis Council (Conseil national du sida et des hepatites virales, CNS) undertook extensive research into the law, nature of complaints and prosecutions, and their impact, and issued a report, opinion and recommendations in April 2015, see Further reading.


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 23

7 occurred in 2014. A number of cases are ongoing in 2016.

Convictions

Number of convictions 15

Minimum

Laws

Applicable laws

French Penal Code: Articles 221-5, 222-15, 223-1 and 223-6.Atteinte volontaire a l’integrite physique d’une personne, empoisonnement.
  • This is not a HIV-specific law.
  • Both exposure and transmission can be prosecuted.
  • Punishable sentences range from 1 year imprisonment plus a €150,000 fine through to life imprisonment.

Applicable key wording

Poisoning: 221-5

To make an attempt on somebody's life by using or giving any product which can lead to death is a poisoning. Poisoning is sentenced to ten years of imprisonment. It is sentenced to life imprisonment when committed under the circumstances established in articles 221-2, 221-3 and 221-4. The first two paragraphs of article 132-23 related to minimum sentencing apply to the offence established in this article.

Administration of dangerous substances: 222-15

Giving prejudicial substances which impair someone's physical or psychical integrity is sentenced to penalties as mentioned in articles 222-7 to 222-14 according to the differences provided for in these articles. The first two paragraphs of article 132-23 related to minimum sentencing apply to the offence in the same way as of those established in those articles.

Bodily harm: 223-1

Exposing directly somebody to immediate death risk or injuries which would lead to disability or severe handicap resulting from a deliberate breach of a specific safety or caution rule dictated by law is sentenced to a year of imprisonment and a €150,000 fine.

Refusal to assist a person exposed to danger: 223-6

Whoever, through an immediate and risk free action, can prevent a crime or an infraction against somebody's physical integrity refrains from doing so, is sentenced to five years of imprisonment and a €75,000 fine. The same sentence will apply to whoever refrains from helping someone in peril, when there is no risk neither for him/herself nor for a third person, and when he/she could have helped by acting directly or seeking for help.

Discussion

It appears that exposing another person to the risk of HIV transmission can be subject to prosecution and treated in the same manner as actual transmission, however,  So far, only cases involving multiple complainants where at least one alleged transmission has been considered by the courts have also taken into account HIV exposure claims.  Exposure to the risk of HIV transmission alone has so not led to a conviction.

Civil law has considered in some cases that the "victims" were eligible to receive monetary compensation from the person who contaminated (infected)  them.  This is based on Article 1382 from the Civil Code which can be summarized as saying : Any action by a person that causes a harm to other must lead the initiator of the harm to repair the damage that was done.  French courts have estimated that the "adequate" compensation for contamination (infection) with HIV adds up to approximately 200.000 Euros. When financial compensations are decided by penal courts, and the perpetrator is not financially solvent, the compensation is paid by a "special fund for victims". This is not applicable for compensation decided by civil-law courts.

Further reading

Latest cases and news can be found at: http://www.hivjustice.net/site/news/?country=79&from-month=-1&from-year=-1&to-month=-1&to-year=-1

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

Conseil national du sida et des hepatites virales (CNS) (1 Avril 2015). Avis suivi de recommandations sur la pénalisation de la transmission sexuelle du VIH en France. www.cns.sante.fr/spip.php?article526

For English language summary see interview with CNS President, Patrick Yeni, at: www.hivjustice.net/news/france-patrickyeni-president-of-the-national-aids-councilinterviewed-about-their-recent-work-on-hivcriminalisation-in-france/

A report of a further case from November 2011: Un séropositif aux assises pour avoir sciemment contaminé son amie. TF1, le 25 octobre 2011. http://lci.tf1.fr/france/justice/un-seropositif-aux-assises-pour-avoir-sciemment-contamine-son-6785303.html

Cases

Overview

Undiagnosed criminal liability:  In February 2012, the criminal court of Draguignan found a 39 year-old gay man criminal liable for infecting two former partners in 2003 and 2005, even though he did not take an HIV test until 2007. He was sentenced to two years in prison, one year of which was suspended, with a further three years' probation. Having already served his sentence whilst on remand, he was freed after the hearing but will have to wear an electronic bracelet for a year.  See France: Untested gay man found criminally liable for two previous partners’ HIV acquisition at http://www.hivjustice.net/site/news/?country=79&from-month=-1&from-year=-1&to-month=-1&to-year=-1

Criminal liability for infecting partner and infant: In November 2009, a 31 year-old man from Perpignan was found guilty of "transmission of a harmful substance causing permanent disability" for infecting not only two women - his ex-partner, and his current partner – but also the child of his ex-partner. He was sentenced to five years in prison, although 3½ years of the sentence is suspended. He will also have to pay compensation of about 50,000 euros. See France: Appeal court upholds three year sentence for HIV transmission at http://www.hivjustice.net/site/news/?country=79&from-month=-1&from-year=-1&to-month=-1&to-year=-1

Last reviewed 01 June 2017

Last reviewed 01 June 2017

Last reviewed 01 June 2017