Erdoğan calls for immediate action on animal rights

Erdoğan calls for immediate action on animal rights

Nuray Babacan – ANKARA
Erdoğan calls for immediate action on animal rights

President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has reportedly called on legislators to pass a bill on animal rights “as soon as possible.”

Erdoğan voiced his concern over the long-delayed legislation at his ruling Justice and Development Party’s (AKP) central executive committee meeting, an anonymous source has told Hürriyet.

“Why is this bill still waiting [to be signed into law]? Pass this bill at once,” he reportedly told AKP officials.

He stressed the public was furious over the news of animals being ill-treated and tortured.

“Those who commit such atrocities are inhuman, heartless people,” Erdoğan said.

The president also reportedly said the municipalities governed by the AKP should be warned to pay more attention to the matter.

“The mayors must do whatever necessary regarding animal shelters and the protection of animals,” Erdoğan said.

For his part, Mehmet Özhaseki, AKP deputy leader in charge of municipality affairs, noted that some local governments do not have animal shelters and some of the shelters in the municipalities were operating in very poor conditions.

“Some of those shelters are like cemeteries. Animals cannot live there,” Özhaseki reportedly said at the meeting.

Erdoğan expressed his discontent, saying that the conditions at the shelters must be inspected to see whether they are suitable to keep the animals there. “Veterinary services must be provided in those facilities,” he said.

Harsher punishment

At the meeting, Erdoğan also reportedly called for more severe punishment for those who torture and kill animals.

A landmark government-sponsored bill put forth in April seeks jail sentence for perpetrators who torture animals instead of a fine — a topic which has widely been discussed in Turkey, with animal rights activists calling for a change for decades.

Those who dare to torture animals will receive four months to four and a half years in prison, according to the new bill.

The bill proposes up to 4.5 years of jail sentence if the perpetrator tortures more than one animal.

If the perpetrator violates the freedoms of multiple animals in the same instance, his or her sentence will be increased by one-and-a-half times, rising from six months to four-and-a-half years in jail, according to the draft.

In the event of the murder of an endangered species, the culprit will be sentenced up to seven years in jail.

The bill, which dissolves the lines between pets and stray animals, also propose animals “are not property.”

Turkish parliament,