Chapter V, Articles 443 to 453 of the Belgian penal code, govern crimes against “honor” also known as slander and libel laws. To supplement the provisions of Articles 443 to 453, the Penal Code punishes any other unforeseen injuries under Article 561.
The penalty for defamation is 8 days to one year imprisonment, plus a fine. In addition, the crime of “calumnious denunciation” is punished with 15 days to six months in prison, plus a fine.
With regards to jurisdiction, Belgian laws say that the courts of the place where the harmful event occurred, or may occur, will have jurisdiction.
Defamation Involving Hate Language Has Harsher Penalties
The minimum penalty may be doubled in a Belgian defamation lawsuit when one of the “motivations of the crime is hatred, contempt or hostility of a person due to his or her intended race, color of the skin, ancestry, national origin or ethnicity, nationality, gender, sexual orientation, marital status, place of birth, age, patrimony, philosophical or religious belief, present or future health condition, disability, native language, political beliefs, physical or genetic
characteristic, or social origin.”
Online Defamation Standards In Belgium
The sending of slanderous or defamatory content by electronic mail may be prosecuted, based on Article 444 of the Criminal Code, which includes “non-public writings that are addressed or communicated to several persons.”