Dhe forgery of vaccination passports is booming. You can buy the document with a stamp and signature on the Internet for 150 euros. This path becomes all the more tempting for those who refuse to vaccinate, the more federal states decide in favor of the 2-G rule. And in the end it wasn’t even entirely clear whether they would be making themselves liable to prosecution.
The Osnabrück district court found a criminal liability loophole in the law at the beginning of November. The judges argued that anyone who presents a forged vaccination card in a pharmacy to get a digital vaccination certificate is not a criminal offense under the current legal situation. To make matters worse: After digitization, there is no longer any possibility to check whether the vaccination certificate is forged.
The public prosecutor’s offices in Lower Saxony contradicted the Osnabrück criminal chamber, other courts also judged the legal situation differently, but Union politicians were the first to urge that the legal uncertainty be eliminated. After the Federal Ministry of Justice only announced that it would examine the question, the traffic light parties have now agreed to improve the penal code. The changes are part of the draft law on the Infection Protection Act, which the Bundestag will discuss in the first reading on Thursday.
Are vaccination records “certificates”?
From a legal point of view, the most interesting point is found in the reasoning for the law. There it says that health certificates, including vaccination passports, are usually documents, so that the criminal offense of forging documents comes into play if vaccination passports are forged.
The Osnabrück Regional Court had argued that the special regulations on the forgery of health certificates were final, so that recourse to the more severely punished forgery of documents was inadmissible. However, because the forgery of health certificates has so far only been punishable if it is used to deceive authorities or insurance companies, the Osnabrück judges were of the opinion that submitting them to a pharmacy was exempt from punishment. After all, it is not an authority.
The traffic light parties want to make it clear that this argumentation will no longer work in the future. Anyone who falsifies vaccination passports or uses forged vaccination passports should be liable to prosecution for falsifying documents, up to five years imprisonment threatens. It is also considered a forgery if a single vaccination is certified in the vaccination certificate that was not actually carried out.
For the falsification of health certificates (Paragraph 277), after the planned amendment, there is only one narrow area of application: Accordingly, anyone who issues such a document under his real name and pretends to be a doctor, although he is not one, is liable to prosecution.
This is a so-called “written lie” that does not fall under the falsification of documents, because here the issuer of the vaccination pass does not deceive about his identity, but about his qualification as a doctor. The restriction on submission to an authority or an insurance company no longer applies; the intention is sufficient to deceive traffic on the right.
The traffic light parties also want to make the issuing of blank vaccination cards an explicit criminal offense. It is unclear whether vaccination cards that do not yet contain any personal information are documents in the sense of forging documents. Blanket vaccination cards with false vaccination entries have a “high tendency to take risks”, according to the explanatory memorandum, because entering the name is only a minimal effort. It should be imprisonment for up to two years in the future.