Singapore has fairly powerful animal protection laws. In practice, however, these laws are only powerful to the extent that they are actually enforced. In Singapore, the low number of prosecutions for animal cruelty is a cause for serious concern. While there can be a myriad of reasons for this phenomenon, this paper argues that one primary cause is the insufficient understanding of what amounts, or may amount, to cruelty at law. This results in an unsound enforcement policy which reduces the protection afforded to animals. By highlighting this problem, this paper hopes to draw attention to the importance of the study and development of animal law, which has a direct impact on the extent to which animals are actually protected.'Evaluating China’s Draft Animal Protection Law' by Amanda Whitfort in (2012) 34 Sydney Law Review 347 comments that
The proposal to introduce a Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Law in the People’s Republic of China is an important development in animal protection legislation. This article examines the motivations behind the draft anti-cruelty law and evaluates its ability to protect animals in China. In particular, the article discusses the problems with relying on anti-cruelty laws to protect animals from harm and the recent development of a statutory duty of care towards animals that is now applied in Europe, the UK, USA, Australia, New Zealand and Taiwan. In its final form, the China draft law has abandoned the inclusion of a duty of care towards animals and prohibits only overt animal cruelty. This article examines how animal cruelty has been defined by courts in the UK, Australia and Hong Kong and concludes that without the inclusion of a statutory duty of care in China’s draft law, the effective protection of China’s animals cannot be achieved. Whitfort states Introduction In September 2009, the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences — the Chinese central government’s top ‘think-tank’ — released a draft animal protection law for the People’s Republic of China (‘PRC’). Such a law had been proposed before, but this new draft came on the back of the most significant public pressure in China’s history to pass a national law protecting China’s animals.
On first release for consultation, the law provided protection to animals from owner negligence as well as cruelty, but political pressures have curbed that aim. When it was formally submitted to the National People’s Congress in March 2011, the proposed law1 had been amended to protect animals from deliberate cruelty, but included little to address the positive welfare of animals. Part II of this article examines the motivations behind the draft law and the incidents that have shaped its current form.
In recent years there has been a rapid move by western governments to introduce legislation that not only protects animals from overt acts of cruelty but also places a duty on those who keep animals to provide them with a satisfactory standard of care. Liability for owner negligence in animal protection law is fast becoming the legislative norm, and is a trend not entirely confined to western jurisdictions. Taiwan prescribed a statutory duty of care towards animals in 1998, and the governments of Hong Kong, India and Sri Lanka have recently been debating similar reforms to their own laws. In Part III, the article examines the reasons for, and the ramifications of, this global trend. Part III also addresses why and how liability for omissions has developed under the criminal law, where positive acts have traditionally been required to attract culpability. The article identifies the first occasion a statutory duty of care for animals was imposed on owners regardless of the purpose for which the animals were kept. It examines why the Australian legislators who introduced that first general duty of care considered anti-cruelty laws insufficient to protect animals from harm adequately.
Part IV of the article examines the development of the objective test for animal cruelty in criminal law. Recent appellate decisions of the English and Australian courts have provided precedent for strict liability in animal cruelty cases. Despite the confusion concerning the correct test for cruelty that has, at times, been displayed by the UK courts, the article contends there is a clear line of authority which provides that as long as a reasonable person would have perceived the risk to the animal, the cruelty offence is made out. The intention of the owner to act cruelly or otherwise is irrelevant. The article discusses whether this interpretation renders moot the need for a legislative duty of care and argues that the experience in the UK before the introduction of a statutory duty of care and in Hong Kong, where such a duty is yet to be introduced, demonstrates that judges cannot always be relied on to impose an objective test for animal cruelty in the absence of clear legislative intention. Furthermore, legislating for a duty of care provides protection for those animals that have not suffered overt cruelty but are clearly not being provided with a reasonable standard of care.
In Part V, the article considers how easily duty of care legislation protecting animals might be adopted by the Chinese legal system. This part highlights the use China has already made of national laws to protect other vulnerable groups, such as children and the elderly. It argues that imposing a duty of care for animals on Chinese citizens may not be as difficult as opponents of the law have suggested. This Part also considers the reasons the PRC drafting team amended their proposed law in 2010, to prevent cruelty primarily, rather than protect animals from negligence and ignorance. It concludes that current political realities in China have forced the drafting team to make a bottom line proposal to the National People’s Congress, but it seems their intention to provide fuller legal protection for animals in China has not been completely abandoned.
In the conclusion, the article warns that when the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress comes to debate the draft Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Law of the People’s Republic of China, it will be of critical importance for legislators to consider the philosophy which should underpin the proposed legislation. If the law is truly to protect the welfare of animals in China it will need to do more than just protect them from cruelty, it will need to promote their welfare actively.