October 17, 2021

Murder is the unlawful intentional termination of another's life, in which an aggravating element is present. In Belgian, Dutch and Surinamese law, among others, this aggravating element is the so-called premeditated degree. In these legal systems, murder is by definition premeditated and the often used term "premeditated murder" is therefore a pleonasm. If someone is killed on a whim, it is called manslaughter. In other legal systems, other elements may play a role. In Germany, for example, premeditation plays no role, but motive and method used make the difference, among other things. It also happens that other forms of termination of life are also called 'murder', but that different degrees are distinguished – a distinction that is not made in Belgium, the Netherlands and Suriname.


The phenomenon of "murder" has spread worldwide. Murders are reported from every country. Relatively speaking, most murders are committed in Honduras. In 2012, 7172 murders were committed there, which amounts to 90.4 murders per 100,000 inhabitants. The numbers are high throughout South and (to a lesser extent) Central America; Venezuela is second (53.7 homicides per 100,000 inhabitants) and Belize is the third country (44.7 homicides per 100,000 inhabitants) in this ranking. Some factors that are seen as the cause of this are social inequality and the relatively young population. In addition, it is noted that other forms of crime and aggression are also common in these areas. The number of murders in Belgium and the Netherlands is relatively low at 1.6 and 0.9 murders per 100,000 inhabitants respectively (2012).


All legal systems, past and present, regard murder as a very serious matter and impose a severe penalty for it. The concept of murder is distinguished from: culpable death: if someone is killed by culpable behavior or negligence, where the perpetrator did not intend to kill; manslaughter: intentionally killing someone without premeditation; qualified manslaughter: this is manslaughter combined with another crime (for example, robbery); suicide, suicide or suicide: when someone takes their own life; the killing in bad weather (disproportionate bad weather is punishable, except if immediately following an (attempted) assault of body, indecent or property, in which case the regulations regarding emergency weather excess may play a role); killing by lawful means, such as by the police, by soldiers in war, or when carrying out a death sentence imposed by a judge, as well as euthanasia. The distinction between, and the scope of, these exceptions is not always clear. It often happens in a trial that the prosecutor and the defense disagree about whether there was murder or manslaughter. The execution of the death penalty after a trial where there is insufficient evidence will be regarded by many people as murder. The same also applies if someone is put to death without a trial having taken place (summary execution). On the other hand, the liquidations by the Dutch resistance in the Second World War after the liberation were often not regarded as murder.

Other forms of murder

Someone who kills at least three victims at different times is called a serial killer. Often serial killers kill their victims in a similar way. Someone who premeditated multiple people at the same time is a mass murderer. When a murder is committed for sexual motives, it is referred to as a lust murder. A robbery murder is a murder committed with the aim of robbing the victim. The murder of a woman or girl because of her gender is called a femicide or femicide. Murders that make a very sneaky or treacherous

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