Tolib Rakhmonov

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“Be kind to every kind. No just mankind”

 Anthony Douglas Williams

1. Introduction

Animal cruelty is one of the widespread issues that concern the whole society. The relevance of this topic lies in the fact that animal cruelty is an encroachment on the natural environment. Even the Constitution of our country obliges citizens to take care of the environment, including animals. However, there are still cases of animal abuse. Realizing the essence of this issue, in this blog post I will consider the causes of animal cruelty and alternative ways to solve this problem.

2. Recent Cases of Animal Cruelty

Despite the establishment of criminal liability for animal cruelty, the number of offenses continues to grow. Statistics show that 44 administrative offenses related to animal cruelty were recorded in 2019, 105 in 2020, 190 in 2021, and 89 in the first quarter of 2022. Basically, such cases are observed in the regions.

For example, in the Sherabad district of Surkhandarya region, an egregious case of animal cruelty occurred. Two residents severely beat and then slit the puppy’s throat. It turned out that a 53-year-old man and his 33-year-old son decided to “teach a puppy a lesson” after it strangled chicken while playing. Therefore, they beat the puppy hard with a stick, and then slit its throat. At the same time, the offenders filmed the whole process on a camera and sent it to the person who gave them the puppy. Although animal welfare society “Mehr va Oqibat” asked the Ministry of Internal Affairs to find these individuals and punish them to the fullest extent of the law, the Ministry has not published an official statement on this issue.

A similar incident occurred in the Ferghana region. In the city of Kuvasai, Ferghana region, three men mercilessly locked a cat in a cage, doused it with gasoline, and set it ablaze for no good reason. The internal affairs bodies in accordance with Article 111 of the Code of Administrative Responsibility imposed a fine in the amount of 3 BCV (990,000 soums at that time) on offenders. However, this decision was canceled by the protest of the Kuvasai City Prosecutor’s Office, and the perpetrators were charged under Part 2 of Article 111 (Animal cruelty) and Article 189-1 (Manufacture, import, distribution, advertising, demonstration of products promoting the cult of oppression, violence or cruelty) of the Code and the case was sent to the Kuvasai City Criminal Court for consideration. On June 21, the case was considered at an open court hearing, and citizen M.A. (born in 1983) was sentenced to 7 days, A.A. (born in 1995) to 5 days, and A.A. (born in 2005) was sentenced to 3 days of administrative arrest.

Let’s take a glance at another case that occurred in Almalyk. A resident brutally beat a dog that was allowed into the entrance due to severe frost. After the incident, the man was warned by law enforcement agencies. However, animal rights activists demanded a fair punishment against him. As a result, the court found the man guilty under part 2 of Article 111 (Animal cruelty) of the Code. He was fined in the amount of 5 BCV (1 million 650 thousand soums).

Even though these offenders were charged, cases of animal cruelty are growing. For instance, since the beginning of 2024, the courts have considered 10 offenses related to animal cruelty. These are only those offenses considered by the court. Internal affairs bodies also consider offenses related to animal abuse, but statistics are unknown. This demonstrates that there is a crucial issue that requires immediate measures. To eliminate such cases, first of all, it is necessary to identify and deal with the causes of animal cruelty, but not with the consequences.

3. The Causes of the Problem

There are a lot of reasons for animal cruelty, but I will analyze the most common and important ones.

Practicing psychologist Elizaveta Kabachkova emphasizes that usually, this type of offense arise from hooligan motives. This behavior is related to human psychology. She notes that adults, by mocking animals, try to show their dominant position in society and superiority over others. If children’s actions are taken as an example, they can show aggression towards animals “mirroring” parental behavior in the family, for example, conflict between spouses. In such dysfunctional families, there may be a lack of attention to the child and close communication that may affect the upbringing process. Cynthia Hodges states that children who have witnessed domestic violence or who have been the victims of physical or sexual abuse may also become animal abusers themselves, imitating the violence they have seen or experienced. 

Another reason for violence against animals is the leniency of punishment. In particular, according to Article 111 of the Code of Administrative Responsibility, cruelty to animals, that is, their torture or infliction of suffering from selfish or other base motives, entails a fine of three to five basic calculated values (from 1 million 20 thousand soums to 1 million 700 thousand soums). In 2021, an identical article was introduced into the Criminal Code, providing for a more severe punishment. According to Article 202-1 of the Code, cruelty to animals, that is, their torture or infliction of suffering from selfish or other base motives, which caused their death or mutilation, committed after the application of an administrative penalty for the same actions, is punishable by imprisonment for up to six months. In my opinion, the punishment is lenient and is not proportional to the committed act and its consequences.

The next reason is legal nihilism (a form of legal consciousness expressed in a negative or indifferent attitude to legal norms) and legal illiteracy. Often people committing such offences try to demonstrate their indifferent attitude to legal norms.

4. Feasible solutions

To solve the problem of animal cruelty, I am going to put forward several proposals.

Firstly, it is necessary to improve the legislation by adopting a new specific law that should highlight the issues and a specific mechanism for the protection of animals. For instance, in Japan exists Act on Welfare and Management of Animals. One of the purposes of this Act is to engender a spirit for animal welfare among citizens and contribute to the development of a respect for life and sentiments of amity and peace by providing for the prevention of cruelty to animals (Article 1). The new law should define the rights and responsibilities of pet owners, a special authorized body responsible for the protection of animals and define its competence, the rules for the use of animals in scientific research, in the learning process, and the production of biological preparations as well. It is necessary to introduce the concept of “responsible ownership” into this law, which means, that if a dog or cat is thrown away, or runs away, gets lost, their owner must bear responsibility.

Secondly, penalties for animal cruelty should be tightened. According to the Criminal Code, the cruelty to animals is punishable by a fine up to 50 BCV (approximately $ 1,300). If we take a look at foreign experience, we can see that several countries established more severe punishments for animal cruelty. For instance, according to the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation, cruelty to an animal in order to cause it pain and (or) suffering is punishable by a fine up to 300,000 rubles (approximately $3,200). In the California Criminal Code, animal cruelty is punishable by a fine of up to $20,000. In Texas, felony-level animal cruelty is punishable by a fine of up to $10,000. An increase in the amount of fines for animal cruelty will prevent the number of these offenses. And collected fines should be allocated for construction shelters for homeless animals.

Furthermore, so as to prevent cases of animal cruelty the government should implement educational hours dedicated to the protection of animals. Schools, being a second home, should educate young people in the spirit of respect for fauna, conduct preventive conversations with pupils, and explain the consequences of cruelty to animals.

The media also plays a paramount role in preventing cases of harsh treatment of animals. The State should encourage the media to cover issues of animal cruelty and report on the facts of offenses.

Last but not least, it is important to increase the number of animal shelters. The government should allocate certain funds to construct shelters for homeless animals. To accomplish this task, the government should cooperate with the private sector and public associations and stimulate their activities in this direction, since the State budget funds are limited.

5. Conclusion

It is worth noting that the causes of animal abuse are diverse and require in-depth research. In this blog post, I have tried to provide a general overview of the causes of animal cruelty and offered several recommendations to solve this problem. In particular, it is crucial to improve the legislative framework and toughen penalties. Moreover, improving the legal literacy of the population, school education, and stimulating the activities of the media play an essential role in addressing animal cruelty.

Cite as:  Tolib Rakhmonov, “How to stop animal cruelty in Uzbekistan?”, Uzbekistan Law Blog, 26.03.2024.