Division of offences carried out on human corpses due
to their statutory object of protection
PhD. student Michał NAJMAN1
The purpose of the article is to demonstrate the lack of uniformity in deter mining
the subject of pr otection of crimes performed on human co rpses or their resting place. The
conclusions were drawn from the ana lysis of 4 8 penal codes, including 15 European, 12
Asian, 9 African a nd 11 America n. It has been shown that the investigated offenses do not
constitute a homogeneous group due to the statutory object of protection. An attempt was
also made to a nswer the q uestion whether non-leg al factors, such as r eligion, social
development, economic development or the level of democratization in selected countries
have an impact on the definition of the object of protection of given crimes.
Keywords: desecr ation, deceased, corpse, cr iminal la w.
JEL Classification: K14, K19
Offenses which object of caring out is human corpses or their resting place
are not perceived today as behaviors that threaten universal security2. They are also
committed relatively rarely on a global scale3. They often coincide with serious
crimes such as genocide, as well as are related to previously committed offenses,
e.g. hiding the corpse of a murder victim4. This is probably one of the reasons for
their lack of popularity. Aesthetic considerations appear to be another reason for
the low interest in these crimes. Yet another factor in overlooking particular crimes
in doctrinal discourse is the multi-faceted and complexity of their object of
protection. Nevertheless, to this day there are many profoundly interesting
dogmatic problems of how to qualify them. The basic problem is what determine
the object of protection of crimes. No consensus has been reached at present
regarding the answer to the question whether religious feelings are violated, or
perhaps solely the deceased, or perhaps public order, are violated when human
corpses are not buried. Moreover, it is worth noting that crimes carried out on
1 Michał Najman - Faculty of Law and Administration, University of Łód, Poland, michalek5558
2 http://www.sprawy-generalne.brpo.gov.pl/pdf/2010/06/649645/1629495.pdf (access on 30.06.2019).
dead.html; www.cambridge.org/core/ journals/legal-studies/article/grave-offence-corpse-
desecration-and-the-criminal-law/93A9757B7B1701D956D9609B2FC5C0F9 (access on
government/2016_Statistical_Report_of_Crimes_Against_Volunt eers.pdf (access on 30.06.2019);
Crime_and_Justice.pdf (access on 30.06.2019).