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What is non-assistance to anyone in danger?

Verified 13 March 2020 - Directorate for Legal and Administrative Information (Prime Minister)

Failure to assist a person in danger is the failure to assist a person in distress.

In order for there to be no assistance to a person in danger, the following must be met:

  • The person in danger faces a grave and imminent dangerwhich threatens his life or integrity
  • The witness is aware of this danger
  • The witness shall refrain from intervening to prevent a crime or an offense being committed against the physical integrity of the victim, or from assisting the victim, or from alerting the rescue services.

The aid given to the victim must not expose the rescuer or anyone else to danger. For example, in the event of a fire, not throwing oneself unprotected into the flames in an attempt to save a victim cannot be condemned. On the other hand, not alerting the rescue team yes.

This abstention is punishable by law.

Where conditions are met, failure to assist a person in danger shall be punishable by law and the perpetrator may be prosecuted before the criminal court. The victim may also seek compensation.

Reporting a danger or non-assistance situation to a person in danger may result in the violation of professional secrecy..

Professional secrecy may be excluded for a health professional who informs the public prosecutor, with the consent of the victim, of physical, sexual or mental violence inflicted on him.

Professional secrecy may also be excluded for any professional who alerts judicial, medical or administrative authorities of ill-treatment of a minor or a person incapable of protecting himself.

For example a teacher facing a suspected pedophilia situation.

On site

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

Who shall I contact

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

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 victim may lodge a complaint against the perpetrator of the offense and claim damages in the event of injury.

Criminal sanctions

General case

A person guilty of non-personal assistance may be sentenced to up to 5 years of imprisonment and €75,000 fine.

Minor victim

A person guilty of non-personal assistance may be sentenced to up to 7 years of imprisonment and €100,000 fine.


A person guilty of non-personal assistance may be ordered to compensate the victim if his abstention has caused him harm. The victim may claim damages in the event of injury, by civil party before the criminal judge.