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In German criminal law , kidnapping is a crime and, including any attempt or preparation, is punishable under Section 234a of the Criminal Code .

Norm genesis

The offense was introduced in 1951 by the law for the protection of personal freedom, since the offense of kidnapping (Section 234 of the Criminal Code) was too narrow to prosecute corresponding actions by the State Security Service of the GDR and other eastern secret services in the West. At the beginning of the 1990s, the offense regained importance in court proceedings to deal with state injustice in the former GDR.


(1) Anyone who, through cunning, threat or violence, brings another person to an area outside the territorial scope of this Act, or causes them to go there, or prevents them from returning from there, and thereby exposes them to the risk of being persecuted for political reasons and in doing so, contrary to the rule of law, suffering damage to life or limb through violent or arbitrary measures, being deprived of one's freedom or being seriously impaired in one's professional or economic position is punishable by imprisonment not less than one year.

(2) In less serious cases, the penalty is imprisonment from three months to five years.

(3) Anyone who prepares such an act is punished with imprisonment for up to five years or with a fine.

The commission of the offense is possible both in Germany and abroad.

According to Section 5 (6) of the Criminal Code, the act is punishable under German law as a foreign act “with particular domestic reference” if it is directed against a person who is German at the time of the act and who has his or her place of residence or habitual abode in Germany. In other cases, the law of application of the penalties according to § 6 and § 7 StGB applies .

Related concepts

Related concepts, also in an international context, are a. Human trafficking and people smuggling .

Individual evidence

  1. Example: BGHSt 43, 125