[Statement Letter from Korean Animal Welfare Association]
We welcome the prohibition of the arbitrary slaughter of animals and the enforcement of the revised Animal Protection Act
On April 27, 2023, the revised Animal Protection Act banned the arbitrary slaughter of animals and completely prohibited the slaughter of dogs for meat consumption. Our long-sought-after legal ban on dog slaughter has finally come.
In September 2017, animal rights activists and citizens cried out in anger, shouting, "Discard the useless Animal Protection Act!" In the appeal of the so-called "Incheon Electric Slaughter" case, the court acquitted the animal abuser following the first trial and declared that "Korea's animal protection law does not prohibit owners from killing their animals." Until yesterday, the reality of Korea’s animal protection law was that unless certain acts were performed, such as "brutal methods" or "killing in front of animals of the same species," it would not be possible to convict abusers for the crime of slaughter. There was no way to incriminate perpetrators even though many animals were killed unjustly due to this blind spot of the Animal Protection Act, which failed to protect the very lives of animals.
However, the Animal Protection Act and its enforcement rules, which take effect today, declare that killing animals should no longer be tolerated without "justifiable reasons." Korea’s Article 10 (1) 4 of the Animal Protection Act prohibits "the act of killing animals without justifiable reasons.” More specifically, Article 6 (1) of the Enforcement Rule limits the "justifiable reasons" to 1. If there is no other way to prevent direct threat to human life and/or body or property damage, 2. If permission or license is obtained under other laws, 3. Orders, dispositions, etc. for animal treatment under other laws.
This update to the law ensures that animals' lives cannot be carelessly taken unless there are special circumstances such as preventing direct threat to human life/body or implementing orders and measures related to animal disposal under other laws. Violations will result in up to three years in prison or a fine of up to 30 million won.
“Animals should not be killed without special reasons prescribed by the law.” This phrase seems to be simple common sense, but it has not been able to be enforced until today. The first wrong step was listing "killing without justifiable reasons" in the 2008 revised enforcement regulations. The limitation caused by the revision inevitably led to the stigma that the Animal Protection Act does not in fact protect animals. To rectify this discrepancy, the Korean Animal Welfare Association has continuously pointed out the problems of the wording of the anti-animal abuse clause from the day of revision and has consistently demanded the correction to a comprehensive clause.
Although it took longer than expected, it is fortunate that the government has now corrected the clause in accordance with the government's willingness to further strengthen animal welfare. Today's enforcement of the law is expected to advance the end of the animal movement's arduous battle to end dog meat consumption. Selling dog meat is already a violation of the Food Sanitation Act, but now slaughtering dogs for the purpose of consumption, which had not been specifically stated in any law, is prohibited. We have no doubt that these amendments to the Animal Protection Act will serve as an important legal basis for protecting animal life and welfare and will play a major role in safeguarding and further developing animal rights in our society.
Nevertheless, there are other concerns. Regardless of what the law states about protecting animals, there have been cases in which the court issued a light punishment or the administrative agency that manages and supervises animal welfare has turned a blind eye to crimes. If the administrative agencies, the investigative agencies and the courts fail to play their parts, despite the implementation of the revised animal protection law, the reality is that animals’ treatment will continue to remain the same.
Therefore, the Korean Animal Welfare Association lays out the following demands: 1) The central government and local government agencies be proactive in preventing animals from being driven to an unfair death. 2) Investigative agencies actively disclose criminal charges for inflicting death on animals without justifiable reasons. 3) The justice system upholds strict punishment for these crimes.
April 27th, 2023
Korean Animal Welfare Association