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Penalties for inhumane treatment of animals tightens

By Levan Abramishvili
Tuesday, March 26
The Legal Issues Committee of the Parliament of Georgia supports the toughening the penalty for the cruel and inhumane treatment of animals. The changes will be made in the administrative and criminal law codex.

The project will foresee the creation of a list of the cruel and inhumane acts and what they encompass. The proposed law was also supported with a first hearing by the Environmental Protection and Natural Resources Committee.

The cruel, inhumane and brutal acts towards animals and birds will be punishable by the administrative law. If the aforementioned acts result in the death of the animal, the criminal law will come into effect.

“The mistreatment of an animal and/or birds, which results in their distress, misery, pain, infliction of the body and physical suffering as a single act or on prolonged periods of time, will result in a fine from 100 GEL to 500 GEL.” – the law reads.

The series of changes is an ongoing process in approximating the Georgian legislature to the EU law. In European Union, the imposition of a penalty for animal cruelty is mainly regulated by the Animal Protection Act, Animal Welfare Act, Law on Veterinary Activities, Law On The Protection Of Animals from Cruelty, and/or criminal code and the administrative codex of the countries.

The punishment for animal cruelty will become harsher in the Georgian Criminal Code. Torture and abusive treatment that results in the death or mutilation of the animal will be punished with community service of 120 to 240 hours; house arrest from 6 months to a year, with a fine, or imprisonment up to a year.

Recently, social media was flooded with the videos of killed dogs in a landfill in Batumi. On March 20, a demonstration was held in Batumi, the protesters attended with their pets and proclaimed that there are people dedicated to killing animals and they need to be punished. They demanded a quick reaction from the authorities.

There had been several other instances of animal cruelty that were made public through social media, which shows a rise of awareness around the issue.

According to a study conducted by IDFI (The Institute for Development of Freedom of Information) in 2017, there is a low number of animal cases that are investigated and considered in courts:

“It turns out that the Supreme Court does not keep separate statistics on administrative penalties imposed on cases of animal cruelty. As for criminal cases, in the period of ten years from 2006 to 2016, courts throughout Georgia have considered a total of 5 criminal cases related to animal cruelty. In three of these cases, the only reason why the court imposed a penalty harsher than a fine was the fact that the charges included offenses in addition to animal cruelty (murder, stealing and coercion).” – reads the study.

Unfortunately, Georgia is not being evaluated by any of the global indices on animal protection. Even though information disclosed by the Ministry of Internal Affairs and the Supreme Court suggests a low number of animal cruelty cases in Georgia, it is to be believed that this data fails to reflect the reality of animal protection in the country. The low number of official animal cruelty cases in Georgia is most likely due to the lack of reports from citizens.

Hopefully, the new legislature will prove to be fruitful in minimizing cruelty towards animals. But, as much as the change in law and its enforcement is important, the general attitude of the public in what will bring the actual change in the conditions of animals in Georgia.