This country's score has stayed the same since 2014.
Recognition of animal sentience and prohibition of animal suffering
This goal assesses whether animal sentience has been recognised in legislation and explores the core legislative protections granted to animals, such as the prohibition of animal cruelty.
Animal Sentience is formally recognised in legislation
However, at the time of writing, this Bill has not yet been enacted into law. Furthermore, this Bill could be made stronger if animals were explicitly defined as sentient beings.
Laws against causing animal suffering
Other acts will be considered a crime under the law, such as the destruction of habitats or nesting sites, poisoning the animals or their food, abduction of animals or the release of stray animals or non-native species in the margins of towns, villages or in the wild.
This draft Bill would forbid acts of physical violence against animals, as well as abandonment. No mention of animal sentience has been made. The Bill was brought to the Iranian Parliament in September 2019. At the time of writing, this Bill has not been enacted into law, hence there is no anti-cruelty legislation in place in Iran.
However, the draft Bill currently presented to Parliament would correct this. A first animal protection bill was proposed already in 2016. Several cases of animal cruelty mounted public criticism towards the lack of punishment for such cruel acts. In August 2019, following the release of videos online showing the killing of stray dogs in Tehran, the Environment Committee negotiated with the presidential office for legal affairs and requested to submit a new Bill on the protection of animals as soon as possible to Parliament. In case of approval through Parliament, the Bill will be sent to the Expediency Council to be enacted.
• The Government of Iran is furthermore encouraged to include a definition of animal welfare in legislation, which should be in line with the OIE definition and explicitly promote the Five Freedoms.
Presence of animal welfare legislation
This goal explores animal protection laws in relation to various categories of animals, namely: farm animals, animals in captivity, companion animals, working animals and animals used for entertainment, animals used for scientific research and wild animals.
Protecting animals used in farming
Iran enacted the Law on Comprehensive System of Animal Husbandry in 2009. This Law aims to regulate issues relating to livestock, including increasing their productivity. The Ministry of Agriculture has the responsibility to enhance education, research and training in this sector. The Government is also entrusted with limiting the quantity and price of imported livestock products, in order to encourage domestic consumption.
Rearing - pigs
Rearing - broiler chickens
Rearing - egg-laying hens
Rearing - dairy cattle and calves
• In addition, the Government of Iran is urged to ban the worst forms of confinement for farm animals. In particular, the use of farrowing crates, sow stalls, and cages should be banned. The stocking density of broiler chickens should also be reduced to a maximum of 30 kg/m2 or lower. Surgical operations, such as piglet mutilations and beak trimming for egg-laying hens, should not be performed except under anaesthesia and with analgesics.
• The Government of Iran is urged to mandate the humane slaughter of all farm animals. Animals should be instantaneously rendered unconscious and insensible to pain and distress prior to slaughter. Today, there is growing consensus amongst religious authorities worldwide that pre-slaughter stunning is compatible with religious principles. Humane halal slaughter allows for the animal to be temporarily rendered unconscious via stunning prior to slaughter, as long as the animal's skull remains intact and the animal would regain consciousness in time should slaughter not occur. Therefore, animals should be unconscious before being bled, and no further processing should occur until irreversible loss of consciousness is confirmed. No animal should be forced to witness other animals being slaughtered as this is inherently distressing.
• Legislation regarding the transport of animals shall protect their Five Freedoms. Due to the significant animal welfare concerns associated with long distance transport, the Government of Iran is strongly urged to ban the export of live animals for long distances (i.e. over eight hours) and replace it with a meat only trade. Long distance transport is inherently cruel as it involves chronic stress for all animals and, for some species and modes of transport, it may involve overpopulation, exhaustion, excess heat or cold, inadequate ventilation and/or access to food and water, leading to disease, pain, injury or death.
Protecting animals in captivity
The Government’s 2010 report to the Convention on Biological Diversity refers to captive breeding programmes for endangered and threatened species but there is no information regarding any animal welfare provisions pertaining to such programmes.
Private keeping of wild animals
• The Government of Iran is urged to fully ban fur farming. Fur farming is inherently cruel and causes pain, distress and suffering to animals.
• The Government of Iran is encouraged to develop a Positive List of species, specifying which animals can be kept as companion animals, based on clear criteria including animal welfare and other relevant concerns.
Protecting companion animals
Care of companion animals
There are problems with stray dog and cat populations in the country, especially in urban areas, and the Government is encouraged to consider humane population control methods such as trap-neuter-return.
• The Government of Iran is strongly encouraged to introduce legislation to promote humane dog population management, which relies on promoting responsible ownership, mass dog vaccinations and reproduction control programmes. Culling is unnecessary, cruel and has been proven to be ineffective. The Government of Iran should also implement education programmes on dog bite prevention.
• The Government of Iran is encouraged to engage with the International Companion Animal Management (ICAM) coalition to learn about and implement their dog population management methodology. This methodology consists of a full cycle of action, addressing the root causes of conflict between roaming dog and communities. The document is helpful to governments to manage dogs humanely as well as to help communities to live in harmony with dogs.
Protecting animals used for draught and recreation
The Government is encouraged to confirm whether there is legislation prohibiting mistreatment of animals in this category, as suggested in relation to zoo animals by media reports.
Animals used for entertainment
In March 2019, Iran banned the construction of dolphinaria in the country, after one dolphinarium attempted to open in the city of Ahvaz.
It is positive that Iran has banned the construction of dolphinarium in the country. Hamid Zahrabi, then Deputy Director of Iran’s Department of Environment supported this decision.
However, there appears to be a lack of legal provisions protecting the welfare of animals used for draught.
• Furthermore, the Government of Iran is strongly encouraged to adopt specific legislation to address the welfare of working animals, including working equids, following the requirements of the OIE’s animal welfare standards (Chapter 7.12). Working animals must be treated with consideration and must be given adequate shelter, exercise, care, food and water appropriate to their physiological and behavioural needs. Any condition which may impair their welfare must be treated promptly, and any affected animals must not be worked again until they are fit. They must not be overworked or overloaded, nor must they be forced to work through ill-treatment.
Protecting animals used in scientific research
In September 2019, the Deputy of Education at the Ministry of Education in Iran ordered all subordinate departments and schools that all vivisections activities must be stopped in all primary and secondary schools, as well as scientific contests taking place in Iran. The ban entered into force on 27 July 2019.
The use of animal testing for cosmetic products and their ingredients does not appear to be restricted in Iranian legislation.
However, it is positive that Animal Ethics Committees were established in 50 universities in 2004. Furthermore, the recent decision to ban animal experiments in primary and secondary schools is commended.
• The Government of Iran is encouraged to ensure that Animal Ethics Committees in medical universities should be able to suspend the activities or revoke the registration of establishments that do not respect animal welfare criteria. Animals used for research should be provided with shelter, care, food and water in a manner appropriate to their physiological and behavioural needs. A nominated member of the laboratory staff, preferably a veterinarian, must have full responsibility for animal welfare at all times.
• The Government of Iran is urged to ban the testing of cosmetic products and their ingredients on animals.
Protecting the welfare of wild animals
The Law on Hunting and Fishing was enacted in 1967, which requires that anyone wishing to hunt or fish must first obtain a licence, issued by the Fishing and Hunting Organisation. This Organisation was replaced in 1971 by the Department of Environment.
The Environmental Protection Law was passed in 1975. This Law states that the Department of Environment and the High Council for Environmental Protection are responsible for establishing a system of supervision and monitoring for wildlife and marine resources, as well as establishing limitations for hunting and shooting in some protected areas.
The Government has reported to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) regarding its legislative framework for the protection and utilisation of natural resources, including wildlife. Its latest report dates from 2015. In order to fulfil Target 12 of the CBD states that ‘by 2020, the rate of loss of all natural habitats, including forests, is at least halved and where feasible brought close to zero, and degradation and fragmentation is significantly reduced’. To fulfil this target, the Iranian Government stated in its 5th National Report to the Convention on Biological Diversity that it has established a Special Wildlife Committee and is revising policies on hunting and fishing. At the time of writing, no revised version of these laws have been found.
In its 2015 report to the Convention on Biological Diversity, the Iranian Government reported on a successful project to conserve cheetahs and also on activities regarding other endangered and threatened species. The action of the Government on conservation issues is very encouraging. However, the issue of wild animal welfare does not appear to be a concern, and the Government is encouraged to develop legislation with respect to activities and practices that have a direct negative impact on the welfare of individual wild animals.
The Government advises that barriers to progress regarding conservation of biological diversity include resistance from some stakeholders because of the socio-economic complexity of the country, which includes very diverse people, different cultures, livelihood and behaviours. For example, bird hunting is a traditional activity and hunting tourism takes place in the country. It appears there are considerable barriers to improvement regarding the welfare of wild animals. Other barriers include habitat destruction, poaching and unsustainable hunting.
The Government has reported to the Convention on Biological Diversity that measures are implemented to prevent trade in endangered and threatened wildlife with respect to CITES.
Establishment of supportive government bodies
This goal examines government commitment to animal protection. This includes whether there is allocation of responsibility, accountability and resources within government to protect animals.
Government accountability for animal welfare
In 1971, the Department of the Environment replaced the former Fishing and Hunting Organisation. The Organisation’s responsibilities included to grant hunting licences, conduct research and training programmes, create protected areas and cooperate with domestic and international agencies.
Furthermore, the Department of Environment has put forth the Bill on the protection of animals, which suggests that it may be responsible for enforcing anti-cruelty provisions in the future. However, no information was located explaining how various government departments have responsibility to address any specific animal welfare issues.
Information provided to the OIE on the regional representation for Asia and the Pacific on OIE’s National Focal Points for Animal Welfare shows that the attendee from Iran represents a veterinary association and the Ministry of Agriculture.
• In addition, the Government of Iran is strongly encouraged to create a multi-stakeholder committee in order to effectively engage all actors involved in maintaining animals’ well-being to find solutions for welfare concerns. This committee would guide the country’s policies and strategies on animal welfare, in line with international standards. This committee should include representatives of animal welfare organisations.
Support for international animal welfare standards
This goal looks at whether the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE)’s animal welfare standards have been incorporated into law or policy, and whether the Government is supportive of the Universal Declaration on Animal Welfare.
OIE animal welfare standards
It appears that all the OIE’s guiding principles and standards are yet to be transposed into legislation and policy in Iran. The Government is encouraged to clarify whether any existing legislation such as the transport regulations and the Law on Animal Husbandry contain any welfare considerations relating to the OIE’s guiding principles and standards.
Support for the Universal Declaration on Animal Welfare
The Government of Iran has not pledged in principle support for the Universal Declaration on Animal Welfare.
Note: The Universal Declaration on Animal Welfare is a proposed formal international acknowledgment of a set of principles giving animal welfare due recognition among governments and the international community. An expression of support for the UDAW demonstrates a government’s commitment to working with the international community to improve animal welfare.
Support for the UDAW would be a first step into integrating animal protection considerations into different discussion tables, becoming a source of inspiration for decision makers interested in improving animal protection in the country.
There are no enforcement mechanisms relevant to this indicator.
• The Government of Iran is encouraged to pledge in principle support for the UDAW. Support for the UDAW will likely underpin further animal protection measures.