Taiwan Spotlight: the first public hearing on “Animal Protection in the Constitution”

Is the current Animal Protection Law effective enough to protect animals in Taiwan? Animals are not legally well-protected! In recent years, the animal protection movement is booming in Taiwan. animal protection groups have begun to call for the concept of animal protection to be written into the constitution in accordance with environmental protection. As the new session of the Legislative Yuan is about to begin, legislators and advocacy groups jointly held the first “Constitution of Animal Protection” on January 7 to explain to the public why it is necessary to promote the introduction of animal protection into the constitution.

The constitution is the fundamental law of a country, which can shape the outlook of the country and the direction of future development of civilization. Among the countries that have written the concept of animal protection into the constitution, Germany is currently the only one that has basic national laws on animal protection, civil laws granting new status to animals, and national constitutional principles.

Animals are conscious and feel pain as many would believe. However, in the laws of most countries, they are still regarded as inanimate objects. Animal welfare and other legal interests (interests guaranteed by law) ) During conflicts, retreat first has been heard from time to time. Therefore, the “Animal Protection Legislative Movement Alliance” formed by a number of animal protection groups in Taiwan has launched an initiative in 2019, calling for the concept of animal protection to be written into the constitution. The legal interest of animals has become the basic principle of various laws, regulations and the exercise of public power concerning animal welfare.

However, the constitutional amendment project is not easy. In Taiwan, a quarter of the Legislative Yuan (113 people in total) requires three-quarters of the members present to vote, and three-quarters of the present members to agree before a constitutional amendment can be proposed. Half a year after the announcement, a referendum is required with valid votes exceeding 50% of the electors before it can be passed. In short, the first high threshold for constitutional amendment is to obtain the support of the vast majority of legislators, and the second high threshold is to convince the public. Communication is essential.

On January 7, the Animal Protection Legislative Movement Alliance and six cross-party legislators co-organized the first “Constitution of Animal Protection”. First, scholars, experts and advocacy groups reported on why animal protection was included in the Constitution. It is important to emphasize the difference between “constitution of animal welfare” and “constitution of animal rights”, the impact of the constitution of animal protection on the law, what kind of problems can be improved by the constitution, and what kind of impact can be caused by the constitution. The relevant authorities shall publish their opinions and listen to the public feedback.

During the Q&A session, attendees expressed their views on the areas of interest in animal protection issues. Taiwan’s “Animal Protection Law” and “Wildlife Conservation Law” have been enacted for two to thirty years, but the public is still dissatisfied with the current situation of animal welfare in Taiwan. The enforcement of animal protection laws and the advocates for the introduction of animal protection into the constitution are lacking.

In 1997, Taiwan incorporated “environmental protection” into the constitution. More than 20 years have passed, but animal protection still has not been introduced into the constitution. Animal activists are not optimistic about whether animal protection could make it into the constitution, but the legislative process and debates will drive advancement for awareness. The Legislative Yuan will start a new session in February. Will the constitution include animal welfare in the first reading with three-quarters of votes? We are excited for the results!