SEOUL, Jan. 19 (Korea Bizwire) — Concern over animal abuse is on the rise due to what many South Koreans describe as lenient punishment for offenders.
The Korean Animal Welfare Association and Lawyers for Animal Rights recently published a compilation of animal rights cases which noted that many instances of animal abuse have ended in non-prosecution.
These organizations claim that many animal rights investigations end without field investigations, generally depending on statements advantageous to the perpetrator.
In 2016, an animal rights advocacy group sued the dean of a university and head of the veterinary college for carrying out experiments on abandoned dogs during class.
The prosecution, however, decided to clear the accused of the charges.
It has been 30 years since South Korean animal protection laws were amended to treat animals not as human property, but as entities entitled to the right to life. However, some animal abuse cases still apply charges of property damage.
While the number of animal abuse cases is rising every year, only a few of them ever result in legal punishment.
According to last year’s records released by the National Police Agency, the number of animal protection law violations jumped by a factor of 10, going from 69 cases in 2010 to 914 cases in 2019.
A total of 3,048 cases of animal abuse were reported during those nine years, but only 304 people were indicted.
Among them, only 39 people received prison sentences, of which 29 were suspended sentences, and only 10 individuals actually served time in jail.
Experts argue that creating a list of specific acts that amount to animal abuse is seen as the primary cause of the problem.
Every time animal protection laws are amended, new acts of animal abuse are added to the ‘list’ to reflect the most recent cases of animal abuse, creating legal blind spots.
Experts are calling for the addition of a more inclusive provision that can cover various forms of animal abuse comprehensively.
“Creating a list only causes a risk that each act of animal abuse should fit perfectly into each enumerated act,” said Chae Il-taek, an official from the Korean Animal Welfare Association.
“A more comprehensive penal measure should be added, with certain exceptions based on reasonable justifications.”
H. M. Kang (firstname.lastname@example.org)