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‘Beings NOT Commodities’: Turkey updates bill on animal rights, plans to enact in coming days

A picture shows a demonstrator holding a banner calling penalty for zoophilia, as a dog stands next to her during a demonstration in Ankara on June 10, 2018, after a video showing a man raping a dog in Konya was shared on social media in May, 2018. (Photo by ADEM ALTAN / AFP) (Photo credit should read ADEM ALTAN/AFP via Getty Images)

Turkey's new law will redefine animals as living beings instead of commodities. It will put crimes against animals on equal footing as violence toward humans and carry a jail sentence.

DAILY SABAH: After a decade of discussion, Turkey’s bill on animal rights has been updated, reaching its final draft. The bill is expected to be enacted in the coming days, following the completion of budget talks for 2021 in Parliament.For the past 10 years, the new bill on animal rights has been one of the main topics of discussion in the parliament as maltreatment of animals has been a frequent concern voiced by the public… The anticipated law will redefine animals as living beings instead of “commodities” as is the case under current laws. Thus, the legislation aims to curb incidents of violence against animals, some of which have made the headlines in recent years.

The new definition will automatically put crimes against animals on equal footing as violence toward humans and carry a jail sentence. Currently, any crime against animals is punished with lenient fines, and courts have handed down light sentences in a few exceptionally brutal cases. Under the updated law, maltreatment against animals would be punishable by at least two years in prison… Additionally, the bill mandates sterilization for all stray animals, and the municipalities will be tasked with this job.

Pet shops will also be affected by the new bill. They will only be allowed to sell animals online and will be required to keep them in their natural habitat until adopted… The bill will also task the municipalities with mandatory construction of animal shelters, but municipalities are expected to be given subsidies by the central government to fund the shelters… Complaint offices will be set up at local branches of the Ministry of Agriculture, enabling the public to lodge complaints regarding violence toward animals. The offices will then proceed with an investigation, referring the cases to courts…

With more media coverage and thanks to social media, animal rights and rights activists have found a louder voice to raise awareness on problems animals face in the country. Turkey prides itself on being the descendants of the Ottomans, whose humanitarian outreach extended even to wild animals. Yet stories of viciously killed stray cats and dogs have dominated headlines in recent years. Animal rights activists say laws are insufficient for proper punishment in such cases, and Parliament decided to set up a committee to investigate the matter. SOURCE…

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