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Law Enforcement Lacking Bark or Bite

Udayana University Seminar Discusses Legal Recourses for Halting Animal Cruelty in Bali

(1/12/2014) The Law Faculty of Bali’s Udayana University conducted a seminar on animal protection on Thursday, January 9, 2014.

Invited to attend were representatives the Bali Animal Welfare Association (BAWA), the Bali Police and academics from the law faculty.

One of the topics discussed was the presence of “RW” or “ErWe” stands across the island selling cooked dog meat. These businesses are blamed for the disappearance of thousands of dogs each year, purchased from dog meat dealers or stolen from unsuspecting pet owners.

I Gusti Bagus from BAWA told the seminar participants, “Every day we receive tens of reports regarding cruelty in the form of torture, poisoning and the theft of dogs.” Bagus told the group that the growing abuse of dogs in Bali could be linked to the many RW stands operating in Bali.

BAWA estimates, based on a field survey, approximately 80 RW stands are in operation in Bali.

Bagus also warned the audience of the growing popularity of Pitbull fights taking place in Bali used to support illegal gambling on the island.

The BAWA spokesperson, quoted in NusaBali, complained the current criminal code against animal cruelty (KUHP 302) was too lenient, punishing violators only with one month’s prison or a fine of Rp. 4,500 (US$0.36). Bagus said such levels of punishment do not reflect the current conditions in Bali.

A legal expert form BAWA, Simplexius Axa, said cruelty to animals could also be addressed under paragraph 170 subsection 1 regarding damage caused to the personal property of others that carries a stiffer penalty of a maximum 5 years in prison.

He revealed that another section of the criminal code (KUHP 363) pertaining the theft of animals carries a 7-year prison sentence, although the intent of that law was the protection of livestock.

The police said they need complaints and reports from the public in order to take action against those committing cruelty to animals. Sugiran of the Criminal Division of the Bali Police said someone must first file a criminal complaint against an RW stand for police to investigate and make arrests. Police also do not have a legalgrounds to close RW stands in Bali. The only exception to the enforcement and closedown rule is if the subject activity is causing public unrest threatening peace in the community.