Netherlands

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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: 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

Netherlands: ‘Groningen three’ sued for €1 million

04 Feb 2009
Somehow, I missed the November verdict of the trial of the three men from the northern Dutch city of Groningen who were on trial for drugging, raping and deliberately injecting HIV-tainted blood into 12 men at private sex parties. According … More

Netherlands: Three men on trial for deliberately injecting HIV into 12 men

29 Oct 2008
Three men are on trial in the Dutch city of Groningen accused of deliberately injecting 12 men with HIV during private sex parties. The case has been covered with remarkable restraint by the Dutch media, and I include three reports … More

Last reviewed 01 June 2017

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 15

Convictions

Number of convictions 14

Laws

Applicable laws

Wetboek van Strafrecht 1881 (Penal Code)

Artikel 300

1.Mishandeling wordt gestraft met gevangenisstraf van ten hoogste drie jaren of geldboete van de vierde categorie.

2.Indien het feit zwaar lichamelijk letsel ten gevolge heeft, wordt de schuldige gestraft met gevangenisstraf van ten hoogste vier jaren of geldboete van de vierde categorie.

3.Indien het feit de dood ten gevolge heeft, wordt hij gestraft met gevangenisstraf van ten hoogste zes jaren of geldboete van de vierde categorie.

4.Met mishandeling wordt gelijkgesteld opzettelijke benadeling van de gezondheid.

5.Poging tot dit misdrijf is niet strafbaar.

Artikel 301

1.Mishandeling gepleegd met voorbedachten rade wordt gestraft met gevangenisstraf van ten hoogste vier jaren of geldboete van de vierde categorie.

2.Indien het feit zwaar lichamelijk letsel ten gevolge heeft, wordt de schuldige gestraft met gevangenisstraf van ten hoogste zes jaren of geldboete van de vierde categorie.

3.Indien het feit de dood ten gevolge heeft, wordt hij gestraft met gevangenisstraf van ten hoogste negen jaren of geldboete van de vijfde categorie.

Artikel 302

1.Hij die aan een ander opzettelijk zwaar lichamelijk letsel toebrengt, wordt, als schuldig aan zware mishandeling, gestraft met gevangenisstraf van ten hoogste acht jaren of geldboete van de vijfde categorie.

2.Indien het feit de dood ten gevolge heeft, wordt de schuldige gestraft met gevangenisstraf van ten hoogste tien jaren of geldboete van de vijfde categorie.

Artikel 303

1.Zware mishandeling gepleegd met voorbedachten rade wordt gestraft met gevangenisstraf van ten hoogste twaalf jaren of geldboete van de vijfde categorie.

2.Indien het feit de dood ten gevolge heeft, wordt de schuldige gestraft met gevangenisstraf van ten hoogste vijftien jaren of geldboete van de vijfde categorie.

Artikel 82

1.Onder zwaar lichamelijk letsel worden begrepen: ziekte die geen uitzicht op volkomen genezing overlaat, voortdurende ongeschiktheid tot uitoefening van zijn ambts- of beroepsbezigheden, en afdrijving of dood van de vrucht van een vrouw.

2.Onder zwaar lichamelijk letsel wordt mede begrepen storing van de verstandelijke vermogens die langer dan vier weken geduurd heeft.

Artikel 45

1.Poging tot misdrijf is strafbaar, wanneer het voornemen van de dader zich door een begin van uitvoering heeft geopenbaard.

Abrideged English translation:

Article 300 Singular physical abuse will be punished with detention of at the most two years or a fine of the fourth category. If this fact causes grievous bodily harm, the perpetrator will be punished with at the most four years of detention or a fine of the fourth category. If this fact causes death, the perpetrator will be punished with at the most six years of detention or a fine of the fourth category. Causing intentional detrimental effect on somebody's health is equalised to abuse. An attempt of abuse under this article is not punishable.

Article 301 Planned physical abuse will be punished with at the most three years of detention. If this behaviour causes grievous bodily harm, the perpetrator will be punished with at the most six years of detention or a financial fine of the fourth category. If this abuse will cause death, the perpetrator will be punished with at the most nine years of detention or a fine of the fifth category.

Article 302 He who causes intentional grievous bodily harm will be punished with at the most eight years of detention or a fine of the fifth category. If this fact will cause death, the perpetrator will be punished with at the most ten years of detention or a fine of the fifth category.

Article 303 Grievous bodily harm, committed with premeditated intention will be punished with at the most twelve years of detention or a fine of the fifth category. If this fact will cause death, the perpetrator will be punished with at the most fifteen years of detention or a fine of the fifth category.

Art. 82 Under grievous bodily harm is comprised: illness that does not offer any chance on complete healing and will cause continuous disability for working or continuous disability to hold official functions, as well as spontaneous abortion or death of a foetus.

Art. 45 An attempt to crime will become punishable if the intention of the perpetrator will have manifested itself by a start of execution of the crime.

 

Applicable key wording

Articles 300 - 303 Assault

Article 82 brings HIV transmission within the meaning of the aforementioned articles.

Article 45 attempt

Discussion

The Netherlands began prosecutions in 1989 under existing homicide and assault laws. Following two initial convictions, a further thirteen prosecutions with twelve convictions occurred between 2000 and 2005.

The only criminal case since then has involved three men from the northern Dutch city of Groningen who were found guilty in 2008 of drugging, raping and deliberately injecting HIV-positive blood into 12 men at private sex parties. One of the accused was jailed for nine years, another to five years, while the third man was sentenced to a year-and-a-half term. Notably, the court ruled that there was no proof that the men had actually infected their victims with HIV, because it was impossible to prove that the men were not already infected prior to attending the sex parties. Consequently, as far as the deliberate HIV infection charges went they could only be found guilty of attempting to cause grievous bodily harm. However, the court did find them guilty of rape and injecting the 12 men with HIV-infected blood.

A 2010 appeal (Leeuwarden Court of Appeal) reversed the lower court's finding on causality, found the first two men guilty of intentional grievous bodily harm and increased the sentences to 12 and nine years respectively.  In March 2012, the Supreme Court (Hoge Raad) found that the case should be retried, because there is reasonable doubt that the men acquired HIV by being injected with HIV-infected blood and, as the lower court originally found, may have acquired HIV through unprotected sex.

Further reading

In 2004 the Dutch Executive Committee on Aids Policy and Criminal Law published a report, 'Detention or Prevention?', which reported on the impact of the use of the criminal law on public health and the position of people living with HIV. This report played a significant role in informing discourse of these issues at national level and persuaded the Government not to create an HIV-specific criminal law as a response to the Supreme Court decisions.

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

Cases

Overview

Supreme Court rulings in 2005 and 2007 closely examined scientific evidence of sexual transmission risk and found that the per-act risk of unprotected sex does not create a "considerable chance" of transmission and used such findings to substantially narrow the scope of the law to only cases of intentional HIV exposure or transmission.

Last reviewed 01 June 2017

Last reviewed 01 June 2017

Last reviewed 01 June 2017