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October 03, 2019 - The Vegan Authority

Turkish parliament reviewing new animal rights regulation

Turkish parliament reviewing new animal rights regulation
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In a landmark change of perspective in Turkish law, a new government animal rights bill was sent to parliament in April 2018 proposing that animals in Turkey are not 'property' or 'merchandise'.

For weeks, the parliamentary committee hosted animal rights activists, nonprofit organization representatives, academics and other people involved in animal welfare and rights for a more comprehensive approach to the matter. It will soon issue a report that will cover everything from pet care to "dolphin parks" and the horse-drawn carriages popular in some towns, reported Daily Sabah.

We want the new animal rights law to be enacted at the Turkish parliament by the end of 2019, head of the Turkish parliament's animal rights commission said on Thursday.

We want all animals to be described as living beings, ruling Justice and Development (AK) Party lawmaker Mustafa Yel said, noting that the law in its present state does not differentiate between stray animals and pets.

The new law also includes a regulation on phaetons. Instead of horse-drawn phaeton carriages, phaetons with electricity will be used. The recent moves to ban horse-drawn carriages also come amid increased awareness and public mobilization on animal rights.

Animal activists have long campaigned for violence against animals to be categorized as a crime instead of simply misconduct. Existing laws only impose fines for crimes against animals.

This is one of the main lobbying concerns of HAYTAP, an animal rights federation in Turkey (Turkish: Hayvan Hakları Federasyonu). They want to change the laws in Turkey regarding cruelty to animals. It believes that the present law, Animal Protection Law No.5199, does not provide for strong enough punishment for animal abusers. Under Turkey's law no 5199, cruelty to animals is considered a misdemeanor, punishable by a fine, with no jail time and no mark on one's criminal record.

Critics say "The new bill simply tells the municipalities that they can keep killing stray animals as they want," Metin Yildirim, the chair of the Association to Protect Stray Animals and Environment, told the Turkish daily Birguen on June 18. "Under the current law, municipalities are collecting animals, poisoning them, mass-killing them or transporting them to wild places with no food resource, condemning them to death", Yildrum said.

Despite a consensus on the issue, a draft bill foreseeing prison terms for crimes against animals proposed to the Cabinet by relevant ministries is still pending in Parliament. The committee suggests at least three years in prison for maltreatment and torture of animals.

The draft animal law is expected to be debated in parliament by end of the year, with wide-spread, cross-party support.

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