South Korea To Grant Legal Status To Animals

South Korea to grant legal status to animals

In a non-human and unfortunate incident, a cream-coloured Pomeranian was buried alive and left to face a gruesome death in 2018 in Busan, the port city of South Korea. The owner was not charged for the cruel act. The act was condemned by animal rights activists locally and abroad. Consequentially, the government of South Korea is planning to amend its Civil code to grant legal status to animals.

Choung Jae-min, the justice ministry’s director-general of legal counsel revealed this in an interview with Reuters and said that the government has taken cognizance against animal abusers and people who abandon their pets.

South Korea to grant legal status to animals

The amendment will become a force of law after it will be approved by the South Korean parliament next month, i.e., September 2021. After that, South Korea will be counted amongst those nations who have identified animal rights and their right to protection, welfare and respect as any other natural being.

The need for a law prohibiting people from committing a crime against animals was passed in the light of escalated cases of abuse against animals. The country recorded 914 cases in 2019 while only 69 cases were reported in 2010 according to the data collated and published by an eminent jurist of the country. The report also revealed that more than 10 million people own pets in the country where the total population is 52 million.

Choung also shed some light on the prevailing and newly introduced laws in the country. Currently, the legal system recognizes animals as objects. Therefore, the benchmarks to decide culpabilities in crime against animals is low. South Korea’s animals’ protection law penalizes the act of abusing or exhibiting cruel behaviour towards animals. The act can attract 3 years of prison time and or fine that can go up to 30 million won or $25,494.

The new law declaring animals as beings and not objects will open new avenues in animal jurisprudence and help prosecutors to press charges against such people who exhibit violent behaviour towards animals.

South Korea to grant legal status to animals

The proposal drew criticism from the Korea Pet Industry Retail Association, which pointed out that there are already laws in place for the protection of animals. Kim Kyoung-seo, the director of KPIRA, sees the new revision as a hindrance in the process of adopting pets. He says the amendment will affect the industry and society as a whole by unnecessarily regularizing the industry.

The new law will open floodgates of obligations to rescue animals and report unintentional roadkill. The day is not far when insurance companies will start to offer life insurance plans for animals according to Choung.

Park Hong-Keun, head of the animal welfare parliamentary forum has revealed that the likelihood of the amendment being passed is very high. Lately, there has been a demand among social institutions in the country to make efforts to protect and respect animals.

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