Turkey’s animal rights legislation underway

Turkey’s animal rights legislation underway

Umut Erdem - ANKARA
Turkey’s animal rights legislation underway

When a milestone parliamentary report on animal rights in Turkey is turned into a law in the upcoming months, fines and punishments for crimes against living things most close to humans will be harsh.

“We have issued the report and a law draft is due to be submitted [to parliament]. It will be discussed at the parliamentary agriculture and forestry commission. We expect it to be enacted in January when the budget talks are completed,” said Mustafa Yel, chair of the parliamentary commission investigating animal rights.

“All aspects mentioned in the report regarding not only the stray animals, but also prey and wild animals, will be considered within a wide framework,” he told daily Hürriyet.

Yel also said that he expects that the new legislation will satisfy every side related to animal rights.

The report, completed by the commission last month after a series of meetings with experts, non-governmental organizations and activists this year, proposes bringing a fine of 10,000 Turkish Liras ($1,745) to those who abandon their pets.

If the bill is enacted, the minimum sentence for crimes against animals, including dogfight betting and sexual abuse, will be two years and a month jail time, which is long enough to effectively block ways of releasing on bail or converting the prison sentence to a fine.

The report also suggests prohibiting pet trade, animal circuses and dolphinariums across the country, and city zoos in which animals are kept in confined spaces.

Carriage horses 

The report brings forward a solution to the controversial issue of carriage horses on Istanbul’s Princes’ Islands partly in accordance with suggestions of animal rights activists.

The number of horse-drawn carriages, mostly serving tourists, should be limited, and on the five islands, which are traditionally auto-free, transportation should be carried out with electric vehicles, the report said.

Only big horses should be used to pull the carriages on a relatively short touristic route, and they should be kept in a stable overseen by the Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality, it added.

Each year, some 800 coach horses die on the islands, particularly Büyükada, according to the activist group “Don’t Use Carriages, Horses are Dying Initiative” (“Faytona Binme Atlar Ölüyor” in Turkish), who have been pressing for a total ban on horse-drawn carriages for many years.

The number of horses on the islands are estimated at 500 in the winter, whereas it goes up to over 1,000 in the summer months, when tourists flock to the islands.

The report also proposes a collaboration with the municipalities and the central government to provide proper veterinary and neutering services.