In Brazil, animal protection rules are placed within different levels in the hierarchy of law. This week guest writer Marina Baptista Rosa will explore what it means in practice that Brazil is among the few countries of the world where animal interests are protected in the Constitution. The other countries are Switzerland, India, Slovenia, Germany, Luxembourg, Austria, and Egypt.
The Brazilian Constitution provides that protecting the environment, the fauna, and the flora is a duty imposed on the public power and on the society and forbids practices that endanger ecologic functions, cause species extinction, or submit animals to cruelty (Article 225, §1, VII).
National Scope Legislation
Article 32 of the law on environmental crimes (national law n° 9.605/1998) provides that criminal acts such as abusing, mistreating, injuring, or mutilating wild, domestic, native, or exotic animals are punishable by up to one year of detention plus fine payments. The sanction might be raised up to a third if the action results in the death of the animal.
In 2020, an amendment was approved by the congress to include another aggravating to this article. Now, when committed against a cat or a dog, the crime is punishable by up to five years of detention, fine payments, and a guard ban.
Case law demonstrates that Article 32 has been applied in a broad sense. For instance, the abandonment of companion animals has been broadly regarded as animal mistreatment in court decisions, and as such, has been punishable in the ways mentioned above.
Another relevant law with national enforcement is law nº 11.794/2008, which regulates the scientific use of animals in Brazil. It instituted the National Council for Animal Experimentation Control (CONSEA), which is the body responsible to accredit institutions using animals for experimentation and to elaborate norms making this use as humane as possible.
Local Scope Legislation
Brazil, being a country of continental dimensions, has many different forms of cultural manifestation. Unfortunately, some of them have questionable values.
For instance, ‘bull riding ’ events are still present in various regions of the country, although social pressure has led to the creation of national law nº 10.519/2002, which introduced minimum welfare standards to protect animals in this context.
Even though the practice is not yet prohibited at the national level, many municipalities have introduced bans within their jurisdictions. Other common examples of practices prohibited in several cities across the country include the ban of animal traction vehicles used for cargo transport and the prohibition of ritualistic slaughter.
Brazilian activists were optimistic after the recent amendment in Article 32 of the law on environmental crimes, raising the penalties of crimes committed against companion animals.
In addition, case law analysis shows that the constitutional provision has proved effective when animal protection clashes with certain human interests. Perhaps, the greater problem right now lays in the lack of implementation at the national level.
Fortunately, many municipalities have been proactive to improve the lives of animals in different contexts and local legislative initiatives have been increasingly diffused across the country.
This post is not legal advice and should not be relied on as such. If you require legal advice on animal protection laws please contact firstname.lastname@example.org
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