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Imprisonment for Malevolent Interventions Against Animals Is Now Possible with the Long-Awaited Amendment to the Animal Protection Law

Imprisonment for Malevolent Interventions Against Animals Is Now Possible

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On July 14, 2021, the Law No.7332 Amending the Animal Protection Law and Turkish Penal Law [“Amendment Law”] was published in the Official Gazette, and accordingly, the following significant amendments have been introduced to the Animal Protection Law No. 5199 [“APL”].

The most crucial amendment brought by the Amendment Law, which has been a matter of debate and expectation of public for a long time, is to qualify animals as “living beings”, rather than as “goods” as it was in the former regulation, and to adopt the sanctions accordingly.

With the Amendment, new crimes have been defined with regard to unlawful acts committed against animals, the scope of the pre-existing penal regulations and sanctions have been modified, and accordingly, prison sentence along with judicial fines have been stipulated as sanctions to these crimes, and also, the amounts of administrative fines set out in the current legislation have been increased. As such, killing an animal in danger of extinction, destroying an animal species, deliberately killing a pet or an animal, sexually assaulting or raping animals, torturing or treating a pet or an animal cruelly and making animals fight are now punishable by imprisonment. Moreover, committing these crimes against more than one animal at the same time or commitment of these by specialists such as veterinarians are accepted as aggravating circumstances. 

Nevertheless, to carry out an investigation on aforementioned crimes, including those committed by the owner, requires written application to the public prosecutor's office by the provincial or district directorates of the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry [the “Ministry”]. In this respect, if this condition is not fulfilled, it will not be possible for the prosecutor's office to commence an investigation ex officio or upon a complaint.

The other important changes brought by the Amendment Law are as follows:

  • Local administrations have been granted the authority and duty to establish animal hospitals if needed.
  • Cat and dog owners should now register their animals through digital identification methods.
  • Pet shops are no longer allowed to sell cats and dogs. These animals can only be sold in pet production areas permitted by the Ministry.
  • Individuals and legal entities have been authorized to establish natural life parks that are suitable for the habitat and free movement of animals.

By M. Tarik Guleryuz, Partner, and Baris Ulker, Senior Associate, Guleryuz & Partners