"Unless otherwise specified under this law, it is prohibited to perform any act that may inflict distress, pain or suffering to animals or subject them to danger or torture," reads Lebanon’s recently introduced law that aims to protect animals.
After years of lobbying spearheaded by activists seeking to protect the country’s four-legged creatures, Lebanon finally has an animal rights law.
"The law has been in the pipeline forever," said animal rights activist Nuhad El Sheikh. It took eight years of work by local NGO Animals Lebanon alongside the Agriculture Ministry. "Because we're efficient," El Sheikh commented sarcastically.
The Lebanese Cabinet approved the law on February 4, 2015, and through a joint committee meeting in Parliament on May 5 of this year, according to the Daily Star.
"I felt that it was about time. At the same time I was thinking: wow, we made it, " El Sheikh told BECAUSE.
El Sheikh is worried about the implementation of the law, and hopes that people will not get away with abuse toward animals or bribe their way out of trouble. In the final stage, before the law will be fully implemented, it will need to be signed by President Michel Aoun and published in the official gazette.
Article 4 of the law ensures the basic needs and vaccinations of animals according to their species type and age, and subsequently bans animal fights organized by humans.
Article 5 requires the most appropriate methods of transportation, loading and unloading for the welfare and safety of animals, and prohibits owning or guarding wild animals, whether caught in the wild or born in captivity, as well as other endangered or dangerous animals. Article 9 stipulates specific requirements for selling animals.
One of the most important articles is number 12, which dictates that municipalities shall set forth a management plan for stray animals. Stray animals, especially dogs, are beaten and sometimes killed when they are regarded as unwanted. NGOs and animal rights advocates have been decrying such actions and attempting to raise awareness to stop such violence, which has proven challenging without legal support.
Article 16 guarantees rights for working animals, stating that animals must not be put to work when in poor health, when too young or too old, or if the work environment or the equipment used threatens their safety or growth, exceeds their natural capacities, or inflicts distress, pain or suffering.
However, the law did not ban the use of animals in scientific experiments. It also did not ban their use in circuses and for entertainment.
Prior to this law, Lebanon had no law that sought to legally protect animals. In place of a national law, Lebanon had signed several international conventions that relate to animal rights, such as the 1975 United Nation Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora.
Photo credit: International Fund for Animal Rights/Animals Lebanon