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Injury

Verified 01 octobre 2020 - Directorate of Legal and Administrative Information (Prime Minister), Ministry of Justice

Insult is punishable by law. The insult can be private or public. It can also be racist, sexist or homophobic. Criminal sanctions take these different elements into account. Public insult comes under a specific procedure that allows it to be repressed while preserving freedom of expression.

An insult is a word, a writing, any expression of thought addressed to a person with the intention of injuring or offending him.

Public Injury

Public insult is an insult that can be heard or read by an audience. Those who may witness the abuse may not be bound by a community of interest. This is the case with insults uttered in the street, among drivers for example, published in a newspaper or on a website.

Comments on a social network can also be considered a public insult. Depending on the lock chosen by the account holder, the comments made can be accessible to any Internet user or to a more or less restricted circle offriends.. If the speech is made available on a public account, the insult is a public insult.

The fact that an insult was pronounced in a closed place does not necessarily make it a non-public insult. Thus, an insult shouted in a building courtyard, because it can be heard by all the occupants (who do not necessarily know each other) and their guests, is a public insult.

Injury not public

Non-public insult is:

  • addressed by the perpetrator to his victim without any third party present (e.g. in an SMS),
  • be pronounced by the perpetrator before a restricted circle of persons with similar interests, in the presence or absence of the victim. If the members of this restricted circle are all bound by the same element, which may be the professional or family relationship, they are not considered as third parties in relation to the perpetrator and the victim. For example, insults to social and economic committee or between spouses at the family home.

In some cases, abuse on a social network can be considered non-public. If the insult was broadcast on an account accessible only to a limited number offriends selected by the author of the remarks, it is a non-public insult.

If you wish to have a content removed from the Internet, you can make a request to the author of the content, then to the site host and finally to the court.

The procedure varies depending on whether it is a publication or a comment on a publication.

For a publication

You must first contact the author of the content, who is the website manager.

If the site manager refuses to remove the content, you must contact their host. The host's contact details must be indicated on the website.

Many hosting companies, such as video sites, set their own conditions for removing content, in particular because of copyright infringement or offensive images. They have specific reporting mechanisms.

If the hosting company does not remove the content reported in accordance with its own procedure, you can report it in a judicial framework. This will allow you to take legal action later.

To report content to a hosting provider in a court setting, you must follow a specific procedure.

Your request must include the following:

  • Your name, first name and e-mail address (not required if you are logged on to the site at the time of notification and your credentials are already registered)
  • Description of the disputed content, its precise location on the site and, if possible, the e-mail addresses that made it accessible
  • Legal grounds for removing content (law apparently violated by content)
  • Copy of 1mother request for withdrawal addressed to the author or proof of impossibility to contact him (it is not necessary for offenses the most serious, such as terrorism, pedophilia, crimes against humanity)

You will have to make your request via a registered letter with acknowledgement of receipt. You can ask for a lawyer's help.

Who shall I contact

You can attach screenshots of the contents realized by a bailiff.

If you report content knowingly knowing that it is not illegal, you could face up to 1 year in prison and €15,000 fine.

If you have used this procedure and the host does not quickly remove the content (by explicit refusal or by not responding to you), you can file against him.

The complaint will be based on the fact that the offending content is against the law (insults, racist remarks, homophobes, sexism...).

  FYI : in case of emergency and obvious harm, you can request a referral to have content removed by the host. However, the latter will not be criminally punished.

For comment

You should contact the person in charge of the site or social network where the comment is located.

If the person in charge of the site or the social network refuses to remove the comment, you should contact their host. The host's contact details must be indicated on the website.

Many hosting companies, such as video sites, set their own conditions for removing content, in particular because of copyright infringement or offensive images. They have specific reporting mechanisms.

If the host does not withdraw the comment reported in accordance with its procedure, you can send it a registered letter with acknowledgement of receipt. You can ask for a lawyer's help.

Who shall I contact

You can attach screenshots of the contents realized by a bailiff.

Your withdrawal request must be as specific as possible: relevant offenses, link to the offending comment, ...

If the site manager does not delete the comment quickly, you can file against him for the offense concerned.

  FYI : in case of emergency and obvious harm, you can request a referral to remove a comment.

Limitation period

You can wear within a limited time after the facts. This timeout starts with 1mother publication of the remarks or their oral pronunciation. The deadline prescription depends on the nature of the abuse.

Limitation period according to the type of injure

Type of abuse

Limitation period

Racist

1 year

Sexist

1 year

Homophobe

1 year

Harming disabled people

1 year

Other cases

3 months

Procedure

The procedure to be used differs depending on whether you know the perpetrator.

You know who said it

On site

You must contact a police station or gendarmerie of your choice.

You cannot be denied receipt of the complaint.

The complaint is then transmitted to the public prosecutor by the police or the gendarmerie.

By mail

You can lodge a complaint directly with the public prosecutor. We need to send free paper letter the court of the place of the offense or the place of residence of the offender.

The letter must include the following:

  • Civil status and full contact information (address and telephone number) of the complainant
  • Detailed account of the facts, date and place of the offense
  • Assumed author's name if you know him (otherwise the complaint will be filed against X)
  • Names and addresses of potential witnesses to the offense
  • Description and provisional or final injury estimate
  • Evidence: medical certificates, work stoppages, various invoices, findings .....
  • Willingness to take part in civil proceedings

Make a complaint to the public prosecutor

Directorate of Legal and Administrative Information (Dila) - Prime Minister

You can send your complaint by registered letter with acknowledgement of receipt or by simple letter. You can also file your complaint directly at the court reception. In all cases, a receipt will be given to you as soon as the public prosecutor's office has registered your complaint.

You don't know him

If the perpetrator is unknown, the victim can still file a complaint. For example, if the author of the comments uses a pseudonym.

In this case, it is necessary to file a complaint against X, whether it is a simple complaint, or a filing of complaint..

You must go to a police station or the gendarmerie of your choice.

The police or gendarmerie are obliged to register the complaint.

The complaint is then transmitted to the public prosecutor to decide on the follow-up (investigation, classification without follow-up...).

If you do not know the author of the facts, you can fill out a pre-complaint online before moving.

You will then get an appointment and the police or gendarmes will already have the elements of your complaint when you arrive.

Online Pre-Complaint

Ministry of the Interior

You can also file a complaint by mail.

You can lodge a complaint directly with the public prosecutor. We need to send free paper letter the court of the place of the offense or the place of residence of the offender.

The letter must include the following:

  • Civil status and full contact information (address and telephone number) of the complainant
  • Detailed account of the facts, date and place of the offense
  • Assumed author's name if you know him (otherwise the complaint will be filed against X)
  • Names and addresses of potential witnesses to the offense
  • Description and provisional or final injury estimate
  • Evidence: medical certificates, work stoppages, various invoices, findings .....
  • Willingness to take part in civil proceedings

Make a complaint to the public prosecutor

Directorate of Legal and Administrative Information (Dila) - Prime Minister

You can send your complaint by registered letter with acknowledgement of receipt or by simple letter. You can also file your complaint directly at the court reception. In all cases, a receipt will be given to you as soon as the public prosecutor's office has registered your complaint.

The civil party complaint may be used for:

  • a case of public insult. In the case of a non-public offense, a complaint with civil status may be filed only if a simple complaint has been filed previously and has been dismissed or has remained unanswered for 3 months,
  • a case of non-public insult only if a simple complaint has been filed before and has been dismissed or has not been answered for 3 months.

The purpose of the investigation following the lodging of a complaint is to establish the facts, without characterizing them as criminal. For example, investigators will verify whether the targeted person is the author of the blog and not whether the comments he made could be considered an insult.

  FYI : if the comments were made on the internet, you can ask a host Removing offensive content (such as a video).

General case

Public Injury

She is punished by a fine of €12,000..

Injury not public

Where it has not been preceded by provocation, it shall be punished by a fine of €38 maximum.

Injure racist, sexist, homophobic, handiphobe

Public Injury

The penalty is 1 year of imprisonment and €25,000 fine.

Injury not public

The penalty is a fine of €1,500 maximum.