Turkish parliament to debate new animal rights law

By Muhammet Emin Avundukluoglu

ANKARA (AA) – We want a new animal rights law to be enacted at the Turkish parliament by the end of 2019, head of the Turkish parliament's animal rights commission said on Thursday.

Animals are described as merchandise in current Turkish law, a definition legislators are now trying to change.

"We want a new animal rights law to be enacted at parliament," ruling Justice and Development (AK) Party lawmaker Mustafa Yel told Anadolu Agency.

We want all animals to be described as living beings, Yel said, noting that the law in its present state does not differentiate between stray animals and pets.

A draft law also stipulates drivers to come to the aid of animals if they are to injure them in a traffic accident .

"We want citizens who do not intervene in the animals after an accident to be punished according to [new] Turkish penal law," said Yel.

The draft animal law is expected to be debated in parliament by end of the year, with wide-spread, cross-party support.