Estonia does not have an HIV specific law but articles 118 and 119 of the Criminal code have been used to prosecute the non-disclosure, exposure and transmission of HIV.
There have been at least four HIV criminalisation cases in Estonia, three of which were reported prior to 2007. In 2017, a man was sentenced to 3 ½ years in jail for alleged HIV transmission to two women: the case was sensationalised by the media who published his name and his photo.
With the support of HIV JUSTICE WORLDWIDE, the Estonian Network of Positive People and the East Europe and Central Asia Union of PLHIV (ECUO) attempted to bring the case to the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) in November 2018 on the grounds that HIV was now a chronic, manageable disease and could no longer be classified as a danger to life. The submission also argued that the applicant could not have foreseen that having unprotected sex would mean criminal liability. However, the ECHR refused to hear the case.
Penitentiary Code of Estonia
Section 118. Serious Bodily Harm:
Part 1. Damage to health resulting in:
1) Danger to life;
;2) a health disorder that lasts at least four months and associated with a permanent disability of at least 40 percent of full working capacity;
3) severe mental disorder;
4) termination of pregnancy;
5) incurable damage, significantly disfiguring a person;
6) loss of an organ or its functioning;
7) death, – – shall be punishable by imprisonment for a term of four to twelve years.
Part 2. An act covered in this section, committed by a legal entity, – is punishable by a monetary penalty
[RT I, 07/12/2014, 1 – entry into force 01.01.2015]
Section 119. Serious bodily harm through negligence.
(1) Infliction of grievous bodily harm through negligence – shall be punishable by monetary recovery or imprisonment for up to one year.
(2) The same act, entailing infliction of grievous harm to the health of two or more people, –
the applicable sentence is up to three years in prison.
[RT I 2006, 31, 233 – entry into force 16.07.2006]
(3) An act provided for in subsection (1) or (2) of this section, committed by a legal person – shall be punished by a monetary penalty.
[RT I, 12/23/2014, 14 – entry into force 01/01/2015]
Authors: Eurasian Women’s Network on AIDS (EWNA)
Regional HIV criminalisation report that summarises the state of play regarding HIV criminalisation laws and known prosecutions in the EECA region.