Thailand-Animal torturers face tough new sentences

Escrito por Nuria Querol i Viñas. Publicado en News in English.

Newly drafted legislation proposes much tougher
sentences than the current penalties of up to one
month in jail and/or a Bt1,000 fine under articles 381
and 382 of the criminal law.
http://nationmultimedia.com/2006/08/20/national/national_30011494.php

Sun, August 20, 2006

DRAFT LEGISLATION
Animal torturers face tough new sentences

Offenders risk up to five years in jail or Bt100,000
fine under proposed law

People who torture animals or fail to provide adequate
welfare for animals in their care could be punished by
a jail term ranging from six months to five years or a
fine of Bt10,000 to Bt100,000.

Newly drafted legislation proposes much tougher
sentences than the current penalties of up to one
month in jail and/or a Bt1,000 fine under articles 381
and 382 of the criminal law.

The legislation - initiated by the Thai Society for
the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (TSPCA) and
Mahidol University's faculty of veterinary science,
and reviewed by the Lawyers Council of Thailand -
covers domesticated, wild, commercial and laboratory
animals.

Thailand's first so-called animal welfare and torture
prevention law was revealed on Friday to animal
welfare advocates, legal experts and the media.

Animal torture was for the first time defined in
detail. It includes beating, burning, forcing animals
to overwork or perform a function not suitable to type
and condition, neglecting them when sick and raising
them in tight spaces, causing pain or death.
Abandonment, eating live animals, tying them up for
long periods and forcing them to fight each other were
also listed as torture.

Animal torturers would face a maximum penalty of two
years' imprisonment and/or up to a Bt40,000 fine,
while those running a business using animals without
permission would face up to a five-year jail term
and/or a Bt100,000 fine.

The legislation allows animal slaughter only in
certain cases - such as consumption within a family,
for religious rites, or killing by law - and it must
be done with a method deemed the least painful. Those
breaching the law would face up to six months in jail
and/or a Bt10,000 fine.

The legislation ensured animal welfare based on the
"five freedoms" guideline, said Assoc Prof Panthep
Ratanakorn, dean of Mahidol University's faculty of
veterinary science. These were freedom from hunger and
thirst, freedom from discomfort, freedom from pain,
injury or disease, freedom to express normal behaviour
and freedom from fear and distress.

Those failing to give good welfare to animals under
their supervision would face a maximum one-year jail
term and/or a Bt20,000 fine.

Officers would also be given greater authority to
arrest violators and seize evidence according to
criminal law. This would prevent officers from failing
to do their duty and people from obstructing the
officers' work, according to Jesada Anucharee of the
Lawyers' Council of Thailand.

The legislation also allows the court to order
first-time offenders with good backgrounds to
undertake social service in animal welfare-related
work instead of receiving criminal punishment.

Other details include the establishment of a national
animal welfare committee chaired by the agriculture
minister to supervise policy and planning for animal
protection, plus provincial-level committees to
oversee the implementation of the law in their
jurisdiction.

A fund to support animal welfare would also be
established within the Livestock Development
Department, while the department's director-general
would be authorised to endorse the establishment of
animal-welfare centres nation-wide.

The new law would also permit the registration of
local and international organisations to let them
assist in implementing the law, be financially
supported by the state and participate in various
committees, according to Jessada.

The next step is to organise public hearings about the
legislation in the next three or four months, said
TSPCA secretary-general Sawan Saengbunlung. They also
plan to get 50,000 signatures in support of the
legislation.

Sawan said he would soon meet the Agriculture Ministry
to discuss pushing the Livestock Development
Department's animal legislation that had been rejected
by Parliament for inclusion in the new legislation, to
help accelerate it being passed into law.

Premyuda Boonroj

The Nation