Following increasing reports of animal abuse in Turkey, the country has made a huge move to potentially tighten up their laws in an effort to deter people from torturing or killing pets or stray animals. The new draft law would allow for sentencing from two months to upwards of seven years for anyone found guilty of these crimes.

Gülay Yedekçi, the deputy of the Republican People’s Party said the current law has punishments that are too lenient, hence she has requested the Turkish parliament put this bill forward, protect animals and help encourage a kinder country for all. Yedekçi also asks the law to be amended to stop animals being considered the property of humans.

Yedekçi stated: “[t]he provisions of the present law are not sufficient. The legal rights of all living creatures must be recognized. With this law proposal, we want animal rights to be secured. The right to life for animals also needs to be defined legally”.

The Justice Ministry of Turkey is said to have prepared the draft, comprised of 27 articles and sent it to relevant ministry departments within the country, saying their opinions must be expressed within 30 days.

Jail time will vary depending on the severity of the abuse and whether the accused is a first-time criminal or a re-offender. Those accused of killing endangered species face the longest possible sentencing of up to seven years behind bars.

Those found guilty of killing and torturing non-endangered animals will have to serve between four months and three years; a sentence which could increase to four and half years if they harm more than one animal. Offenders who force animals to fight, a common practice with dogs and bulls, will have to endure a minimum of two months and maximum of two years in jail. Whether the animal who is abused, tortured or killed is a pet or stray is irrelevant to this new draft law.