The penalty for killing, maiming and torturing is up to 70 dollars.
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The Senate of Oliy Mazhlis of Uzbekistan approves the upgrade of penalties for cruelty to animals. The new amendments to the law became effective this June. If earlier the penalty was 0.5-2 minimum salaries (11.84-47.34 dollars), now it is 1 to 3 minimum salaries (23.67-71 dollars).
In case of further violation, the penalty increases up to 3-5 minimum salaries (71-118.35 dollars) or administrative detention for up to 15 days may be imposed.
The draft law was developed due to the petition placed on the Mening Fikrim portal of collective petitions, which collected more than 10 thousand signatures.
According to the Mehr va Oqibat Animal Protection Society, they received 3,588 complaints of animal cruelty in 2014-2018.
According to the Supreme Court, the courts of Uzbekistan reviewed 277 cases against 399 citizens regarding cruelty to animals in 2014-2017. 281 offenders were punished in 199 cases, and only 78 cases were finished up.
“For example, the town of Almalyk in Tashkent region has registered a case of burning a pregnant dog by teenagers, and in Almazar district of Tashkent 18-year-old girls have tortured the cat and then drowned it. According to article 111 of the Administrative Liability Code, they have been fined two minimum salaries (about 50 dollars),” Sadirzhan Dzhakbarov, deputy of the Legislative House of Oliy Mazhlis, said.
Activists say more than a half of homeless animals are former family pets left behind. It could be due to the move of owners or loss of interest. Moreover, the country has no purposeful programme for pet cruelty prevention, prosecution, as well as strict control of homeless animals.
The State Veterinary Committee had been in charge of homeless animal control in Uzbekistan. According to the specialist of the agency, who asked not to be identified, the situation has gotten worse after this function has been delegated to khokimiyats.
“Special-purpose teams at khokimiyats do not check the animals for diseases, do not feed or water them, but destroy,” he said.
The cases of killing of animals by animal trappers in front of children and residents were registered in the town of Navoi, Pakhtakor district of Dzhizak region. In Tashkent in September 2017, the khokim of the city made a decision to increase raids against street animals – their round-the-clock trapping and extermination.
“Only stray animals that have no leash, no owner, must be trapped. We keep animals in our yard in special cages. We care for them as much as we can although the state doesn’t allocate any funds for their care. We provide them with water and bread. They live here with care for the rest of their lives,” said Shukhrat Makhammadzhonov, the mechanic of the special-purpose team of the city of Tashkent.
The increase of penalties is deemed by the activists as a positive step, but it remains to be seen if they would be applied to the employees of special-purpose teams that trap homeless animals.
In recent years, posters that call for merciful attitude towards animals have appeared in Tashkent. In January 2019, imam-khatibs during Friday prayers in all the mosques of the republic urged everybody to be merciful towards homeless animals. Posts about cruelty to abandoned animals often appear in social media.
“The impunity of these citizens causes even more violence against animals and leads to moral ugliness of the younger generation. It was proved a long time ago that cruelty to animals in children leads to their future violence against their relatives, family, society. We should develop a mechanism of animal protection in the country,” said Gulchekhra Irgasheva, the leader of the initiative group for homeless animal protection Rakhmdil Bul (Be Merciful).
The authors of the draft law that toughens liability for cruelty to animals have initially suggested stricter sanctions – a penalty at the rate of 10-15 minimum salaries (236.7-355 dollars) for torturing, killing or maiming an animal, and a penalty at the rate of 355-710 dollars, or detention for 15 days for a repeated offence.
However, during the review of the document in the second reading, the parliamentarians deemed the suggested penalties “too high for the population.”
This article was prepared as part of the Giving Voice, Driving Change – from the Borderland to the Steppes Project implemented with the financial support of the Foreign Ministry of Norway. The opinions expressed in the article do not reflect the position of the editorial or donor.