Mouvement pour l'Égalité entre les Femmes et les Hommes



On 11 November 2011, Mrs S.K., a police officer in Waremme, killed her daughter, attempted to kill her son, attempted suicide, and then committed suicide the following year after being interned. She had previously been the victim of a work-related accident, and had undergone an assessment upon her return, which apparently took place in a settling-down context. The police officer had been under continuous pressure for months according to several witnesses. The judgment denounces the following treatments suffered by the victim: sudden coldness, marked unusual distances, criticism and series of criticisms on his return after sick leave; humiliation in the presence of an offender during a request for justification concerning the drafting of a statement of offence; organization of an assessment procedure is hurtful in an atmosphere not very serene. 

Ms S.K. ’s two superiors were found criminally responsible for the harassment that led to her committing such acts and committing suicide. The defendants were prosecuted in particular for degrading treatment and moral harassment of Mrs S.K.: manslaughter of Mrs S.K.’s daughter; manslaughter of the latter and involuntary bodily harm to Mrs S.K. and her son. 

The decision of the Court of Appeal, considering that the facts are part of a “collective suicide dynamic”, concluded that these bodily injuries would not have occurred without the criminal faults attributed to the hierarchical superiors. In other words, the judgment of the Court specifies that the psychological state of the policewoman, at the time of the act, is a state consecutive to the malicious treatment of which she was a victim on the part of her superiors. Given this, the decision has legally justified the existence of a causal relationship between the acts of harassment and the prevention of manslaughter and involuntary bodily harm. 

This decision is a very important step in the fight against moral harassment in the workplace since the link between inappropriate acts and moral harassment and the resulting consequences (homicide, suicide attempt and suicide) was retained by the Supreme Court.