Laos has added a new section to its penal code that criminalizes animal abuse.
This section appears in the latest version of the country’s penal code, which was promulgated by the Lao Government on November 18, 2018.
Article 353 of the updated penal code states that individuals who abuse or mistreat animals, including acts such as incarceration without food or water, use of animals for labor without adequate rest, severe beatings, transportation in substandard conditions, cruel slaughter of animals, or the use of poison against animals, will face imprisonment or fines of between 500,000 kip to 3,000,000 kip.
Repeat offenders will face imprisonment from three months to one year, and be fined up to 10,000,000 kip.
The new addition to the penal code demonstrates a shift in attitudes toward animals, and will assist in ensuring the protection of animals against abuse.
While animal abuse is commonplace in some sectors of society, the inclusion of animal protection in the penal code will give law enforcement officers the authority to punish those who abuse animals, or those who overwork animals used for labor.
If adequately enforced, the new law could affect popular cultural pastimes such as cock fighting, or the abuse of animals for tourism purposes. Meanwhile, the law may be used as further ammunition against the trade in dog meat or that of wild animals.
According to an official at the People’s Supreme Court contacted by the Laotian Times, any act of animal abuse may be reported directly to the Criminal Investigation Division of the relevant district.
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