Turkey prepares to pass stringent animal cruelty laws
Abbas Ertürk has to take care of an old donkey he inherited from his father.
A bill proposed by the İstanbul Bar Association’s Animal Rights Commission, also backed by a number of government deputies, seeks to place animal abuse, an offense treated as a misdemeanor in Turkey, under the Turkish Penal Code (TCK) and make crimes against animals punishable with jail sentences of at least three years.
Last week Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan met with representatives of an animal rights group and renowned musicians and actors to improve legislation concerning animal rights in Turkey. Erdoğan met with the group on Sunday in the prime minister’s office at Dolmabahçe Palace in İstanbul. He promised to include cruelty to animals in the TCK. This also brought to light a bill drafted earlier by the İstanbul Bar Association’s Animal Rights Commission. The bill introduces harsh penalties for those who engage in animal cruelty, including jail sentences of a minimum of three years. The bill also introduces sanctions that will ban a person convicted of animal abuse from employment in jobs around children, such as schools or school cafeterias, hospitals and other medical facilities.
Lawyer Hülya Yalçın, who heads the commission, told Today’s Zaman that if the bill is passed, it would make significant changes to the lives of many animals. She said where morality fails, harsh legal remedies are necessary. “We don’t think anyone will defend an animal rapist, or someone who leaves their dog tied to a pole without food or water, or who tortures a pregnant animal. Obviously, people in this state of mind are morally decrepit and are leading such lives.” She said the bill also categorized cockfights and bullfights as cruelty to animals. The bill in addition dictates that jail sentences for animal cruelty be twice as long as the term currently stipulated in the law in cases where the abuse involves cutting, burning or the use of chemicals to harm an animal.
Justice and Development Party (AK Party) parliamentary group deputy chairwoman Ayşe Nur Bahçekapılı also supports the bill. She told Today’s Zaman that the bill ensures the protection of animals from abuse, noting that it was currently under review in the relevant parliamentary commission. “We are trying to bring the bill to Parliament’s agenda before the election [in June]. If we can’t do it in time, then this bill will be passed after the elections,” Bahçekapılı said.
Turkey’s Animal Welfare Act No. 5199 went into force in 2004 and seeks to protect animals from torture, abuse and maltreatment. But under this law offenders are only subject to fines under the Law on Misdemeanors. Under Turkish law, a misdemeanor is considered a “lesser” crime. If the bill passes, animal abusers will not be able to get away with paying a fine. The law will also allow prosecutors to start investigations into animal cruelty cases without the filing of a complaint.
Elazığ man weary of father’s will, hopes donkey dies soon
An Elazığ man has said he is tired of having to take care of an old donkey that he inherited from his father. Abbas Ertürk (52), from Keban, Elazığ province, told the Anatolia news agency on Tuesday that he was having a hard time taking care of the donkey financially. The donkey’s well-being was the last wish of Ertürk’s father before his death. Ertürk said the family moved to Yahyalı in Denizli province in 2008. However, they could not leave the donkey behind because Ertürk’s father had said on his deathbed that he wanted the donkey to be taken care of in the last years of his life. “We rented a house,” he told the Anatolia news agency. The new house did not have a stable for the aging donkey and they arranged for it to stay in the coal shed of their new apartment. “My father liked practical jokes a lot. I think he played a joke on us as he passed away. He said this is an old ass, and we thought it would die soon. It has been three years, and it still hasn’t died.” İstanbul Today’s Zaman