Thailand

D
Thailand

This country's score has improved since 2014.

Recognition of animal sentience and prohibition of animal suffering

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.

C

Animal Sentience is formally recognised in legislation

On 26th December 2014, the National Legislative Assembly of Thailand passed the Prevention of Animal Cruelty and Provision of Animal Welfare Act, which entered into force the following day. The Act does not explicitly define animals as sentient, yet it recognises the capacity of animals to suffer, which is one of the first steps towards recognition of animal sentience.

Notably, the Act defines animal cruelty as ‘an action or no action that provides an animal a physical or mental suffering, pain, illness, disability or that may result in its death’. Animal cruelty is prohibited in Section 17 of the Act.

Moreover, this Act defines ‘animal’ as ‘animal that is normally kept as a house animal, an animal kept for usage, an animal kept as a vehicle, an animal kept as a friend, an animal kept as a food, an animal kept for performance, an animal kept for any other purposes, regardless of the presence or the absence of its owner’. This definition also encompasses ‘any animal living in the nature as prescribed by the Minister’. Therefore, this Act is applicable to all captive, domestic and farm animals, as well as wild animals as decided by the Minister. The Minister decided in April 2018 that five species of wild animals were to be included under the scope of application of this Act: the hybrid tiger, civet, pigeon, wild boar and squirrel.

Moreover, the Act mentions that animal welfare is dependent on the ‘type, kind, nature, condition and age’ of the animal (section 19). This acknowledgement of species-specific criteria is another element of recognising formally animal sentience.

Analysis

Since the API was first published in 2014, the Prevention of Animal Cruelty and Provision of Animal Welfare Act, was passed by the Thai legislature. This Act recognises aspects of animal sentience, since it refers to the capacity of animals to experience mental and physical pain. It is positive that this Act defines animal welfare as ‘keeping or a provision of any animal a suitable and healthy welfare with sufficient habitation, food and water’. Moreover, this Act contributes to mainstreaming animal welfare since it is applicable to all species of captive, domestic and farm animals. There is no mention that this Act is restricted to vertebrates.

The Act is nonetheless limited in its application to wild animals, since the Minister has the power to decide whether the Act is applicable to wild animals. Furthermore, the Act contains many exemptions to animal cruelty considerations (section 18). Therefore, the Act is only moderately useful to mainstream animal welfare.

Enforcement Mechanisms

Chapter 7 of the Prevention of Animal Cruelty and Provision of Animal Welfare Act outlines penalties for offenders under the Act. Namely, any person violating the anti-cruelty prohibition laid out in Section 17 shall be imprisoned for up to two years and/or fined for up to 40,000 baht (US$1,300) (Section 28).

Additionally, any animal owner who fails to provide his/her animal appropriate welfare, abandons the animal or fails to comply with transport and performance procedures as outlined by the Minister shall be fined up to 40,000 baht (US$1,300) (Section 29).  Any person who does not facilitate the work of an official in inspecting animal welfare standards shall be fined up to 20,000 baht (US$630) (Section 30).

Furthermore, the Court may decide to confiscate an animal from his/her owner, if the owner is not deemed able to provide appropriate animal welfare (Section 29/I). Section 31 lays out that any convicted offender under this Act shall pay his/her fine no later than 15 days after receiving the sentence.

Key Recommendations

• Since the API was first published in 2014, the Thai legislature has adopted the Prevention of Animal Cruelty and Provision of Animal Welfare Act in 2014. Although animal sentience is not specifically referred to in the Act, various aspects of sentience are recognised, such as mental and physical suffering, as well as species-appropriate behaviours. Building upon the Act, which recognises that animals can suffer both mentally and physically, the Government of Thailand is encouraged to publicly recognise animals as sentient beings and to enshrine animal sentience in the Act.

C

Laws against causing animal suffering

The Criminal Code B.E. 2499, section 381  provides that whoever mistreats an animal or kills an animal ‘by subjecting it to a painful state’ shall be punished with imprisonment of up to one month and/or fined up to 1,000 baht (US$31). Furthermore, section 382 provides that whoever overworks an animal unreasonably or uses it for unsuitable work when the animal is ill, old or young shall be imprisoned for up to one month and/or fined up to 1,000 baht (US$31). This does not cover suffering caused by failure to act.

However, the Code does not define ‘animal’, therefore it is not clear whether this is intended to extend to wild animals or only to protect domestic animals, and whether it covers animals used in scientific research. It appears that the Criminal Code is not intended to protect wild animals as they are already protected by the Prevention of Animal Cruelty and Provision of Animal Welfare Act (for five species) and by the Wildlife Conservation Act.

Since the API was first published in 2014, the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals and Provision of Animal Welfare Act entered into force on 27th December 2014. By contrast to the Criminal Code, this Act clearly defines ‘animal’ and is thus applicable to all categories of animals, including companion, farm, captive, working and performing animals, as well as wild animals.

Moreover, the Act defines animal cruelty as ‘an action or no action that provides an animal a physical or mental suffering, pain, illness, disability or that may result in its death’, including ‘usage of any disabled, ill, old or pregnant animals from any exploitation, a usage of any animal for sexual purpose, a usage of any animal in an unreasonable manner, a usage of any ill, old or young animal in an inappropriate work’. Section 17 of the Act prohibits any action or omission which results in animal cruelty.

However, some exceptions to this general anti-cruelty rule are outlined in Section 18. In particular, animal cruelty cannot be applied to the slaughter of animals used as food (section 18(1)), the slaughter of animals to control the spread of diseases (section 18(3)) and the slaughter of animals in accordance with any religious ceremony or belief (section 18(5)). Section 18(9) also exempts animal fights from being considered under the criteria defining animal cruelty.

Analysis

The anti-cruelty legal provisions are categorised as ‘petty offences’ in the Criminal Code, which indicates the necessity for an improved status for animal welfare offences.

This improved status of animals came with the enactment of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals and Provision of Animal Welfare Act. The Act prohibits action or inaction that would lead to animal cruelty with no reasonable cause (section 17) and requires that any animal owner provide appropriate welfare in accordance with the criteria, procedures and conditions prescribed by the Minister (section 19). These will depend on the kind, nature, condition and age of the animal. Section 20 furthermore prohibits any animal owner to leave, abandon or take action to discharge his/her animal out of his/her supervision without a reasonable cause. As such, this Bill appears effective at mainstreaming welfare requirements for all animals.  

However, the many exemptions to animal cruelty cases present in Section 18 of the Act contradict with the apparent purpose of the Act to mainstream animal welfare. The fact that Section 20 exempts all slaughter procedures for food to be considered in light of the definition of animal cruelty provided in Section 3 of the Act is an obstacle to monitor slaughter practices. Moreover, Section 20 allows religious slaughter, which may require the animal to be killed without prior stunning. Animal fights, which go against animal welfare, are also allowed under the law.

Moreover, this Act does not apply at all to wild animals, which is a considerable loophole when considering the welfare of all animals. Only the Minister may decide to which wild animals this legislation applies.

Although there are several organisations dedicated to protecting animals in the country, animal welfare is not at present a mainstream concern of society. In particular, the Thai Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (TSPCA) was instrumental in ensuring that the Act passed in legislation in 2014.  

Despite the passage of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals and Provision of Animal Welfare Act, there remain barriers to improving animal protection in view of the role of tradition and cultural practice. Notably, the Act allows for the use of animal fights ‘in accordance with local tradition’ (Section 18(9)). The Act also enables slaughter of animals ‘in accordance with any religious ceremony or belief’ to be exempted from cruelty considerations (Section 18(5)).

Enforcement Mechanisms

Cruel ill-treatment, killing with unnecessary suffering, or unreasonably overworking an animal, is punishable with imprisonment of up to one month and/or a fine of up to 1,000 Baht (section 381, 382 Criminal Code).

Chapter 7 of the Prevention of Animal Cruelty and Provision of Animal Welfare Act outlines penalties for offenders under the Act. Namely, any person violating the anti-cruelty prohibition laid out in section 17 shall be imprisoned for up to two years and/or fined for up to 40,000 baht (US$1,300) (section 28).

Additionally, any animal owner who fails to provide his/her animal appropriate welfare, abandons the animal or fails to comply with transport and performance procedures as outlined by the Minister shall be fined up to 40,000 baht (US$1,300) (Section 29).  

The Act also authorises officials to inspect suspected venues and vehicles for animal ill-treatment, and to confiscate animals or their carcasses if necessary (section 22). Any person who does not facilitate the work of an official in inspecting animal welfare standards shall be fined up to 20,000 baht (US$630) (Section 30).

Furthermore, the Court may decide to confiscate an animal from his/her owner, if the owner is not deemed able to provide appropriate animal welfare (Section 29/I). Section 31 lays out that any convicted offender under this Act shall pay his/her fine no later than 15 days after receiving the sentence.

The Department of Livestock Development (DLD) and the Royal Thai Police are defined as enforcement bodies of this new Act. The Act rather focuses on offenders, but lack capacity for the DLD and the Thai Policy to enforce legislation.

Key Recommendations

• Since the API was first published in 2014, the Thai Government has enacted the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals and Provision of Animal Welfare Act. This Act lays out an important foundation for mainstreaming animal welfare in the country. In fact, this Act prohibits deliberate acts of animal abuse, as well as a failure to act in case of animal cruelty. It is positive that this Act prohibits both actions as well as inactions, which would result in animal suffering.

• However, significant exemptions to animal cruelty are allowed in the law, under section 18 of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals and Provision of Animal Welfare Act. Notably, all slaughter of animals for food, disease control and religious purposes are not required to abide by anti-cruelty requirements. In addition, this Act still allow the organisation of animal fights. As such, the Thai Government is encouraged to amend section 18 of the Act and to remove such exemptions. This relatively new Act offers the possibility to Thailand to become a leader in animal welfare in South East Asia, and to do so Thailand should remove the numerous exemptions to animal cruelty outlined in Section 20.

• Furthermore, the Government of Thailand is encouraged to provide further resources to local authorities, the DLD and the Royal Thai Policy to raise awareness on animal welfare and manage the enforcement of animal welfare legislations.

Presence of animal welfare legislation

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.

F

Protecting animals used in farming

Rearing

The anti-cruelty provisions in sections 381 and 382 of the Criminal Code apply to this category of animals.   

The 2014 Prevention of Cruelty to Animals and Provision of Animal Welfare Act is also applicable to this category of animals, since the Act is applicable to ‘animals kept as food’. The Act does not specifically refer to condition of husbandry, rearing, transport or humane slaughter for farm animals. Farm animals are protected by the general anti-cruelty provision in section 17. Section 19 also mandates that any animal owner shall provide appropriate animal welfare to the animals according to the criteria, procedures and conditions prescribed by the Minister. However, no evidence of such criteria has been found for all farm animal species.

The Animal Disease Act 2558 applies to farm animals; however, the Act focuses on the health of farm animals, which is only one component of their welfare. This Act contains no other welfare-related provisions.

There are Thai Agricultural Standards with a Code of Practice for Control of the Use of Veterinary Drugs, which has been issued in accordance with the Agricultural Standards Act B.E. 2551 (2008). It establishes good practices for the use of veterinary drugs for food producing animals to avoid the excess of maximum residue limits of veterinary drugs in animals, animal produce and animal products for human consumption.

Rearing – pigs

By virtue of Section 5, Section 15 and 16 of the Agricultural Standards Act B.E. 2551 (2008), the Minister of Agriculture and Cooperatives has issued a Notification of Thai Agricultural Standards: Good Agricultural Practices for Pig Farm. These are voluntary standards for pork production. However, the standards are intended for agricultural commodities to meet quality standards and safety checks, rather than to focus on animal welfare.

Rearing – broiler chickens

Under powers in Article 32 of the State Administration Act B.E. 2534 of 1991, in 2011 the Department of Livestock Development issued regulations on the protection of poultry on farms, during transport and at slaughter (B.E. 2554 (2011)), replacing previous regulations from 1999. These include requirements such as for poultry to be free to move and to be fed according to physiological needs, for sufficient space and ventilation and avoiding pain and distress during transport, and for electrical water-bath stunning before slaughter.

The Government has also produced non-binding standards on good agricultural practices for broiler farms (TAS 6901-2009), which include more specific welfare provisions such as space and lighting requirements and the need to express normal behaviour.

Rearing – egg-laying hens

No legislation has been found specifically relating to egg-laying hens.

Rearing – dairy cattle and calves

There exist the Good Practices for Animal Welfare: Dairy Cattle Production Systems which is under the Thai Agricultural Standard, Ministry of Agricultural and Cooperatives. B.E. 2561 (2018). These practices focus on animal welfare by setting standards and indicators for farmers to notice and follow. Such standards cover the environmental management, mandate to avoid painful procedure, early weaning, breeding, stock density, as well as slaughtering.

They also include a management plan for disasters.

Transport

Section 21 of the 2014 Prevention of Cruelty to Animals and Provision of Animal Welfare Act states that any animal owner shall provide appropriate welfare, as defined by the criteria prescribed by the Minister of Agriculture and Cooperatives, to his/her animal during transport. The appropriate level of welfare is dependent upon the type, kind, nature, condition and age of the animal.

Slaughter

Section 22 of the Control on Slaughter and Sale of Meat Act B.E. 2535 (1992) allows for the killing of animals outside the abattoir in accordance with conditions set forth on the Ministerial Regulations, including in accordance with religious rituals, in a local area notified as a wilderness area (where necessary) and where justified under ‘appropriate reasons.’

However, at slaughter, these animals have no legislative protection, since section 18(1) of the 2014 Prevention of Cruelty to Animals and Provision of Animal Welfare Act explicitly states that the ‘slaughter of any animal as food (only animal kept as food)’ shall be exempted from abiding by anti-cruelty legislation. In addition, section 18(5) allows for the ‘slaughter of any animal in accordance with religious ceremony or belief.’ Finally, section 20(8) allows for mutilations to be performed on animals, such as cutting the ear, tail, hair or horn of the animal, if this is done ‘with a reasonable cause and without any harm to the animal or its existence.’

Analysis

The primary legislation largely deals with procedural affairs and seems to contain very few provisions on the promotion of animal welfare, except for poultry. The government controls some local provisions in terms of maintaining the living conditions suitable to the population in the locality and preventing diseases, which can assist in ensuring animal enclosures are adequately spacious to prevent outbreak of disease.

Since the API was first published, the 2014 Prevention of Cruelty to Animals and Provision of Animal Welfare Act has been enacted. However, this Act falls short of providing meaningful protection to farm animals. In fact, the Act contains a basic anti-cruelty provision (section 19), which can be applied to the rearing of farm animals.

Section 21 explicitly mandates that animal owners provide good welfare standards for their animals during transport. This is positive especially seeing that the level of welfare is adapted to the individual age, species and condition of the animal.

However, section 20 of the Act creates massive loopholes in terms of protection of farm animals. Indeed, slaughter procedures are exempted from cruelty considerations, which means that officials allowed under this Act to inspect premises where animal cruelty might be perpetrated have no power to protect animals at slaughter. Moreover, section 20(5) allows for religious sacrifice and religious slaughter to be performed, which in practice means that animals can be killed without being stunned.

Finally, it is very concerning for animal welfare that mutilations on farm animals are allowed in section 20(8). Such procedures are usually done without anaesthesia and therefore are very painful to the animal. Section 20(8) provides that such operations are only allowed ‘without harm to the animal,’ however, it is questioned how the animal’s capacity to suffer is evaluated in such circumstances.

It is positive that there are regulations and guidelines that address some key welfare issues in poultry, and the government is encouraged to enforce these provisions and to produce specific provisions on animal welfare relating to other species of farm animals. At present the standards for broilers cannot be enforced since they are non-binding. However, Thai legislation lacks specific rearing requirements for other farm animal species, such as egg-laying hens, pigs and dairy cattle.

Existing provisions relating to poultry welfare suggest that it may be possible to achieve improvement for farm animal welfare. Indeed, in relation to poultry, some commercial enterprises in Thailand have introduced good animal welfare practices in order to gain access for their produce to international markets and have received some recognition internationally for their efforts.  

Similarly, in 2019 swine farms owned by Charoen Pokphand Foods announced switching to group housing for gestating sows in its swine farms, driven by the global tendency to move away from gestation crates and further encouraged by World Animal Protection. The group has also introduced advanced technologies in its poultry farms, such as evaporating cooling systems.

The Government might find support for increased policy and legislative development for other farm animal welfare issues because of trade drivers. The government also reports that it has received some assistance from the European Union for the establishment of poultry welfare standards and good operating procedures.

A survey conducted by World Animal Protection in 2018 reported that animal welfare is among the top factors for Thai consumers to consider when choosing pork products. Consumers reportedly prefer a pork from higher welfare source and would like the supermarket to offer higher welfare pork products.

Enforcement Mechanisms

Cruel ill-treatment, killing with unnecessary suffering, or unreasonably overworking an animal, is punishable with imprisonment of up to one month and/or a fine of up to 1,000 baht (section 381, 382 Criminal Code).

The standards on good agricultural practices for broiler farms are not legally enforceable.

Chapter 8 of the Prevention of Animal Cruelty and Provision of Animal Welfare Act outlines penalties for offenders under the Act. Namely, any person violating the anti-cruelty prohibition laid out in section 20 shall be imprisoned for up to two years and/or fined for up to 40,000 baht (US$1,300)  

Additionally, any animal owner who fails to provide his/her animal appropriate welfare, abandons the animal or fails to comply with transport and performance procedures as outlined by the Minister shall be fined up to 40,000 baht (US$1,300) (Sections 22, 23 and 24).  

The Act also authorises officials to inspect suspected venues and vehicles for animal ill-treatment, and to confiscate animals or their carcasses if necessary (section 25). Any person who does not facilitate the work of an official in inspecting animal welfare standards shall be fined up to 20,000 baht (US$630) (Section 28). Furthermore, the Court may decide to confiscate an animal from his/her owner, if the owner is not deemed able to provide appropriate animal welfare (Section 33I). Section 31 lays out that any convicted offender under this Act shall pay his/her fine no later than 15 days after receiving the sentence.

Key Recommendations

• There is minimal legislation for the protection of farm animals in Thailand in the 2014 Prevention of Cruelty and Provision of Animal Welfare Act. In fact, animals are protected from cruelty acts during the phases of rearing and transport. However, at slaughter, animals have no legal protection. The Government of Thailand is thus urgently invited to repeal section 18(1), so that slaughter procedures can be assessed in light of cruelty criteria.

• The Government of Thailand 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.

• Moreover, the Government of Thailand is encouraged to produce legally binding guidelines on the conditions of rearing, transport and slaughter for various species of farm animals. Building upon the regulations on the protection of poultry on farms issued by the Department of Livestock Development, the Government is encouraged to produce more legislative texts mandating husbandry, transport and slaughter conditions for animals. The Thai government is highly encouraged to consider a ban on all types of cages for laying hens. Moreover, following the voluntary adoption of group housing by some agri-businesses, the Government of Thailand is encouraged to enact legislation mandating free farrowing systems in all of its swine farms.

D

Protecting animals in captivity

It appears that the anti-cruelty provisions in sections 381 and 382 of the Criminal Code apply to this category of animals.

The Prevention of Cruelty to Animals and Provision of Animal Welfare Act furthermore applies to this category of animals, since it applies to all kept animals. The Act forbids animal cruelty to be perpetrated towards these animals (section 20). In addition, the Act authorises officials to inspect premises where they suspect animal ill-treatment is taking place (section 25). Officials are also authorised to seize animals in case there is suspicion that the animals might be killed or be the victim of cruelty (section 25(4)).

Zoos

The Wildlife Preservation and Protection Act 1992 sets out provisions for wildlife sanctuaries and public zoos. The Act was most recently amended in 2014.

Permission to start a public zoo must be sought from the Director General (section 29). The zookeeper must abide by conditions and procedures stipulated. Section 31 gives the Director General the power to require rectification where a public zoo causes suffering. Public zoos must be run in accordance with guidelines set by the Minister. However, no evidence of guidelines on zoo operations has been found.

Private keeping of wild animals

The Wildlife Preservation and Protection Act 1992 prohibits the killing and keeping of protected wildlife. In principle, it is thus illegal to possess protected wildlife animals in Thailand.  However, if a person possessed such an animal before the Wildlife Preservation and Protection Act came into force in 1992, the person may keep the animal but must file a report with the government and undergo an inspection by a competent officer. The inspection focuses on the level of care and safety for the protected wildlife. When appropriate, the government may issue a temporary permit that is valid for the remaining lifetime of the protected wildlife.  

Fur farming

No legislation has been found specifically relating to fur farming.

Analysis


The legislation currently falls short in protecting the welfare of animals kept in captivity. Although the Government has extensive control over the running and granting of licences to operate zoos, conditions of welfare are not explicitly dealt with under the Wildlife Preservation and Protection Act 1992.

The Prevention of Animal Cruelty and Provision of Animal Welfare Act partially fills this gap in the legislation by authorising officials to inspect premises where they suspect animal ill-treatment is taking place. This law is also beneficial as it grants power to the official to confiscate animals if their welfare is compromised. However, this Act is applicable to any wild animal who has been registered and is used for entertainment, but if animals are used for conservation and research, this Act does not cover them.

In recent years, conditions in some private zoos in Thailand have come under criticism internationally, with comments that the existing legislation and enforcement efforts are not sufficient to protect animals kept in captivity. Thailand has a Zoological Park Organisation (ZPO) in charge of education, conservation policies general management of the country’s zoos. The establishment of the ZPO under the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment illustrates the government’s willingness to achieve high welfare standards in the country’s zoological facilities. However, the NGO Wild Welfare reports the ZPO supports animal welfare improvements within their member facilities. Unfortunately, only eight zoos are part of the organisation; some facilities operating outside the ZPO have even lower welfare standards, such as Pata Zoo.  

Enforcement Mechanisms

Section 31 of the 1992 Wildlife Preservation and Protection Act provides that where it appears that the zoo is contrary to the stipulations contained in the ministerial regulations made under section 29, or renders lack of safety or suffering to any wildlife, the Director General is able to order rectification. If the permission holder continues to fail to comply, the competent officer shall have the power to rectify it, with the expenses incurred by the permission holder. There are also penal provisions under the Act, among which fines and jail time of up to 4 years.

However, since no legislation has been found on animals used for fur farming, there are no enforcement mechanisms associated to this category of animals.

Key Recommendations

• The Prevention of Cruelty and Provision of Animal Welfare Act prohibit cruelty acts towards animals, including wild animals in captivity. This 2014 Act allows officials to carry out animal welfare inspections in facilities where there is suspicion that animals are ill-treated. The Government of Thailand is highly encouraged to mandate regular inspections to be carried out at zoos. Results of such inspections should be made publicly available.

• It is positive that the 1992 Wildlife Preservation and Protection Act mandates that anyone willing to open a public zoo shall obtain a permission from the Director General, under the conditions specified by the ministerial regulations. However, the Government of Thailand is encouraged to publish such regulations, and to include animal welfare requirements within such regulations.

• The Government of Thailand is highly encouraged to produce detailed legislation specifying the conditions under which wild animals may be kept in captivity. Such regulations shall include requirements with regards to housing, feeding time and enrichment. In parallel, the Ministry of Natural Resources and the Environment is encouraged to continue allocating human and financial resources to the Zoological Park Organisations, so that the ZPO can include more members which will have to abide by strict animal welfare standards.

• Additionally, the Government of Thailand is strongly encouraged to amend the Prevention of Cruelty and Provision of Animal Welfare Act to formally include wild animals in captivity as part of this Act. 

D

Protecting companion animals

Care of companion animals

The anti-cruelty provisions in sections 381 and 382 of the Criminal Code apply to this category of animals.

In the Civil and Commercial Code, section 433 provides that an owner or controller of an animal is responsible for damage caused under their care, unless the owner can prove that they exercised proper care in keeping the animal according to his/her species and nature or otherwise, or that damage would have occurred notwithstanding the exercise of such care.

At a local level, Bangkok’s secondary legislation provides conditions and requirements for the owners of dogs, requiring compulsory dog registration and mandatory compliance with the requirements of public health and dog welfare in the ordinance (sections 29 and 30, Bangkok Ordinance B.E. 2535).

The Prevention of Animal Cruelty and Provision of Animal Welfare Act applies to companion animals, by prohibiting animal cruelty (section 20). In addition, section 22 mandates that an animal owner shall provide an appropriate level of care in accordance with the criteria, procedures and conditions prescribed by the Minister. When deciding on the appropriate level of animal welfare, an animal owner shall take into account the type, kind, nature, condition and age of the animals. Furthermore, animal owners are prohibited from leaving, abandoning or taking action to discharge their animals out of their supervision without a reasonable cause.

In 2018, a draft amendment to the 2014 Prevention of Cruelty and Provision of Animal Welfare Act was approved by the cabinet, which would require pet owners to register their dogs and cats, for a fee of 450 baht (US$13), or be liable to a fine if the owner is not able to register their animal within the next three years. This new registration scheme is intended to prevent the neglect of companion animals, which end up as stray animals, and the spread of diseases. However, as of August 2019, this amendment has yet not been enshrined into law.

Stray animals

Section 377 of the Criminal Code states that whoever allows a ferocious or vicious animal in their care to wander about alone in a manner likely to cause injury to a person or things shall be punished with imprisonment of one month or a one thousand baht fine, or both.

Apart from that, there does not appear to be any legislation in Thailand detailing welfare provisions for stray animals.

Analysis

Prior to the enactment of the Prevention of Animal Cruelty and Provision of Animal Welfare Act, the legislation did not promote a high standard of care for companion animals. The 2014 Act has improved the standards of care for companion animals, since animal owners now have a duty to provide appropriate animal welfare to their animal. The Act is effective at mainstreaming the fact that companion animals need appropriate level of care, which is conditioned by the species and age of the individual.

However, there is no national legislation on humane management of stray dogs and cats. There is no evidence of legislation requiring adequate provision of food, shelter and water to companion animals, thus falling short of international standards. Street dog population management should be a priority for the government, seeing that there are about 640,000 free roaming dogs in greater Bangkok (strays, community dogs and free roaming pets).

Major issues remain with regards to the management of stray animal populations, as well as the dog meat trade. The animal welfare organisation Soi Dog has shown an example in terms of what can be achieved when both owned and stray dogs are targeted for vaccination and sterilisation. Phuket is now officially rabies free and the stray dog population has reportedly declined by over 50% over the 2011-2016 period.
 
In 2014, nearly 500,000 people signed an online petition calling the Thai government to outlaw the dog meat trade, after a harrowing video appeal by British actor Ricky Gervais and Dame Judi Dench. It is reported that the government was considering a ban on the trade in 2014. However, the dog meat industry is estimated to be worth nearly £20 million a year in Thailand alone, and is driven by highly organised crime groups. Therefore, there exist significant economic barriers to improving animal welfare for dogs slaughtered for meat. Whilst local arms of government have shown efforts to crack down the illegal dog meat trade, this has not proven fully effective yet. The NGO Soi Dog is actively campaigning to end the dog meat trade. The dog meat trade is still an issue in Thailand, though it has been dropped from public attention in the past few years. The outbreak of African Swine Fever in ASEAN countries, with the associated risks of transboundary disease spread, control issues of meat will be heightened, and the issue of dog meat might come back in the public eye again.

Although Thai law enforcement agencies are trying to crack down on smugglers, legislation specifically targeted to this offence with harsher penalties is a necessary step. A collaborative effort with Chinese, Vietnamese, Lao and Cambodian authorities may be most effective. The lack of regulation with regards to transportation or the humane slaughter of dog is an impediment to improving animal welfare in the country. In fact, dogs are crammed into cages and killed by being boiled alive or tortured before being killed, due to the belief that pain increases the level of adrenalin in the blood, which in turns tenderises the meat.  

Enforcement Mechanisms

Cruel ill-treatment, killing with unnecessary suffering, or unreasonably overworking an animal, is punishable with imprisonment of up to one month and/or a fine of up to 1,000 baht (section 381, 382 Criminal Code).

The Prevention of Cruelty to Animals and Provision of Animal Welfare Act also provides enforcement mechanisms, in chapter 5 of the Act. Namely, any person violating the anti-cruelty prohibition laid out in section 20 shall be imprisoned for up to two years and/or fined for up to 40,000 baht (US$1,300) (section 28).

Additionally, any animal owner who fails to provide his/her animal appropriate welfare, abandons the animal or fails to comply with transport and performance procedures as outlined by the Minister shall be fined up to 40,000 baht (US$1,300) (Sections 22, 23 and 24). Any person who does not facilitate the work of an official in inspecting animal welfare standards shall be fined up to 20,000 baht (US$630) (Section 28). Furthermore, the Court may decide to confiscate an animal from his/her owner, if the owner is not deemed able to provide appropriate animal welfare (Section 33). Section 31 lays out that any convicted offender under this Act shall pay his/her fine no later than 15 days after receiving the sentence.

However, since no legislation has been found regulating the welfare of stray animals, there are no enforcement mechanisms associated to this category of animals.

Key Recommendations

• The enactment of the Prevention of Cruelty and Provision of Animal Welfare Act in 2014 should be highlighted as a positive step towards improving and mainstreaming the welfare of companion animals, since animal owners have now a duty of care which is legally enforceable.

• However, massive legislative loopholes with regards to the treatment of stray animals and dogs slaughtered for meat remain in Thailand. Hence, the Government of Thailand is urgently invited to enact legislation forbidding the inhumane killing of dogs for meat, and the torture of these animals. Notably, section 18 of the Prevention of Cruelty and Provision of Animal Welfare Act should be amended so that the slaughter of animals for food is not exempted from animal cruelty considerations.

• The Government of Thailand is strongly encouraged to promote humane stray animal population management, which relies on promoting responsible ownership, mass vaccinations and reproduction control programmes. Culling has been proven to be ineffective and should therefore be banned.

• With regards to rabies, the Government of Thailand is highly encouraged to conduct vaccination programmes rather than culling.

• The Government of Thailand is encouraged to engage with the International Companion Animal Management (ICAM) coalition to learn about and implement their dog population management methodology. The 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.

F

Protecting animals used for draught and recreation

Animals used for entertainment

The anti-cruelty provisions in sections 381 and 382 of the Criminal Code apply to this category of animals. Particularly relevant is the prohibition on overworking animals under section 382 Criminal Code, stating that ‘any person who imposes an ill, senile or immature animal with an extortionate or inappropriate work shall be liable to imprisonment for not more than one month, or a fine not exceeding one thousand baht or both.’

The 2014 Prevention of Cruelty to Animals and Provision of Animal Welfare Act addresses the conditions of animals used for draught and recreational purposes. In its preamble, the Act defines ‘animal cruelty’, which encompasses living conditions of a working animal, or an animal used for recreational purposes. In fact, the Act states that ‘cruelty’ includes ‘a usage of any disabled, ill, old or pregnant animal for any exploitation, a usage of any animal for sexual purpose, a usage of any animal in an unreasonable manner or a usage of any ill, old, young animal in an inappropriate work.’ Cruelty acts towards animal are prohibited in section 20. However, section 21(9) authorises the organisation of animal fights ‘in accordance with any local tradition.’

Draught animals

Section 24 of the 2014 Prevention of Cruelty to Animals and Provision of Animal Welfare Act states that any animal owner or person involved with transporting or using an animal for work or performance shall provide appropriate animal welfare, in accordance with the criteria, procedures and conditions prescribed by the Minister. Such conditions shall take into account the type, kind, nature, condition and age of such animal.

However, there is no publicly available evidence of such criteria laid out by the Minister of Agriculture and Cooperatives, in charge of this Act.

Analysis

In a country where animals are still widely used for draught purposes, it is positive that the Criminal Code recognises potential welfare issues for these animals.

Furthermore, it is positive that section 24 of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals and Provision of Animal Welfare Act mandates an animal owner to provide adequate care to any working or performing animal. The fact that animal welfare is dependent upon the age, species and condition of the animal provides that the level of care should be adapted to each individual animal.

However, such criteria of animal welfare standards, which are decided by the Minister for Agriculture and Cooperatives, are not publicly available. In addition, animals used for draught and recreational purposes could benefit from more legislative protections. The fact that the Act allows the organisation of animal fights is a huge loophole in terms of providing adequate welfare for animals. Animal fights can be organised at zoos.   

Moreover, there are concerns regarding the welfare of Thailand’s working elephants. Tourist entertainment using elephants is profitable and supported by the Thai government, which itself runs elephant training for tourist purposes. Animal performances are also organised at zoos.

Additional legislation with regards to animals used in entertainment with harsher penalties should be considered in this area. The Government could also provide more standards of guidance and expectation for those responsible for animals in this field.

The 2014 Prevention of Cruelty to Animals and Provision of Animal Welfare Act does not live up to its ambition to protect all animals from cruelty acts. There exist cultural barriers to enhancing animal welfare, since for instance animal fights are still allowed on the ground of ‘local traditions.’ The fact that the law did not go against and above such outdated and cruel traditions show that policymakers are reluctant to improve in this area.

Enforcement Mechanisms

Cruel ill-treatment, killing with unnecessary suffering, or unreasonably overworking an animal, is punishable with imprisonment of up to one month and/or a fine of up to 1,000 baht (section 381, 382 Criminal Code).

Chapter 8 of the Prevention of Animal Cruelty and Provision of Animal Welfare Act outlines penalties for offenders under the Act. Namely, any person violating the anti-cruelty prohibition laid out in section 20 shall be imprisoned for up to two years and/or fined for up to 40,000 baht (US$1,300).

Additionally, any animal owner who fails to provide his/her animal appropriate welfare, abandons the animal or fails to comply with transport and performance procedures as outlined by the Minister shall be fined up to 40,000 baht (US$1,300) (Section 32).  

The Act also authorises officials to inspect suspected venues and vehicles for animal ill-treatment, and to confiscate animals or their carcasses if necessary (Section 26). Any person who does not facilitate the work of an official in inspecting animal welfare standards shall be fined up to 20,000 baht (US$630) (Section 34). Furthermore, the Court may decide to confiscate an animal from his/her owner, if the owner is not deemed able to provide appropriate animal welfare (Section 33). Section 31 lays out that any convicted offender under this Act shall pay his/her fine no later than 15 days after receiving the sentence.

However, no penalties for animal cruelty apply to the organiser of animal fights, since these are exempted from being considered cruel (Section 21(9)).

Key Recommendations

• Since the API was first published, Thailand has slightly progressed in enshrining the welfare of animals used for draught and recreational purposes in the law, since section 24 of the 2014 Prevention of Animal Cruelty and Provision of Animal Welfare Act provides that working or performing animals should be given appropriate care. However, no precise guidelines regarding this level of care are publicly available. Therefore, the Minister of Agriculture and Cooperatives is strongly encouraged to publish precise requirements with regards to working or performing hours, as well as mandating adequate husbandry, food and water requirements.

• There are many reports of performing animals in appalling welfare conditions. As such, the Government of Thailand would benefit from an outright ban on the use of all animals in circuses and other public performances, at zoos for instance. Phasing out the use of animals for entertainment purposes could start with a ban on the use of wild animals for such performances. At the very least, the Government of Thailand is very much encouraged to mandate more frequent visits to zoos, to ensure that the welfare of performing animals abides by the regulations set out by the Minister of Agriculture and Cooperatives.

• Section 21(9) allowing the organisation of animal fights on the ground of ‘local tradition’ tarnishes the purpose the 2014 Act to prevent cruelty towards animals. Therefore, the Government of Thailand is urged to enact a national ban on animal fights.

• The Government of Thailand is highly encouraged to engage with NGOs to promote the welfare of animals used for draught and recreational purposes.

B

Protecting animals used in scientific research

It appears that the anti-cruelty provisions in sections 381 and 382 of the Criminal Code apply to this category of animals.

The Wildlife Preservation and Protection Act B.E 2535 (1992) stipulates in section 26 that protection under that Act does not apply to any work performed by an official for the purposes of surveying, education and scientific research.

The government body the National Research Council of Thailand has produced Ethical Principles and Guidelines for the Use of Animals for Scientific Purposes in 1999. These guidelines notably highlight that ‘animal users should reserve the use of animals for situations of their unavoidable necessity or when there is no other available option’ (section 1.1). The users of animals have to make sure that the minimal number of animals is used to achieve accuracy in the project (section 2). Finally, animals should be ‘treated with caution to avoid stress, pain and suffering by providing optimum conditions for transportation, animal husbandry, environmental enrichment, prevention of diseases and appropriate experimental techniques’ (section 4). These guidelines, however, only have advisory status.

The National Research Council of Thailand (NRCT) was inaugurated by the National Research Council Act B.E.2502 (1959) and was designated by the Cabinet as the national body responsible for the implementation of research related matters.

Since this Index was first published, the Thai legislature has approved the Prevention of Cruelty and Provision of Animal Welfare Act in 2014. This Act does not state explicitly that it is applicable for animals used for scientific research, however, since its preamble states that it is applicable to ‘all animals kept for usage’, it appears that animals used for research would fall into that category.

Section 20 of the Act prohibits cruelty towards animals, however, section 21(7) exempts from cruelty provision ‘any action towards an animal’s body that is deemed by the veterinary profession taken by any veterinary practitioner, or by any person who is authorised to do so without any registration and who is licensed to serve as a veterinary practitioner by the Veterinary Council in accordance with the law regarding the veterinary profession’. This provision applies to veterinary surgeries and could also apply to the use of animals for scientific research.

In addition, Thailand has adopted the Animals for Scientific Purposes Act B.E. 2558 in 2015.

The purpose of this Act is for the supervision and promotion of procedures on animals for scientific purposes in harmony with universal ethics and standard for protecting animal life and welfare. In this Act, ‘Procedures on Animals for scientific purposes’ are defined as ‘caring, using, or breeding of, or any manipulation on the animals for scientific purposes’ (section 3(4)).

Furthermore, Chapter 1 of this Act establishes a Committee for Supervision and Promotion of Procedures on Animals for Scientific Purposes (CSPA). The CSPA is a multi-stakeholder body comprising government officials, representatives of higher education institute in veterinary science or using animals for scientific purposes, three representatives from private sector organisations using animal testing and three representatives from animal welfare organisations (section 5). The duties and power of the Committee are prescribed in section 8, among which the CSPA is in charge of determining the Ethics in Procedures on Animals for Scientific Purposes (section 8(4)). In order to use or to breed animals for scientific purposes, either inside or outside an establishment, a license must be obtained (section 27); the licensee shall comply with the ethics prescribed by the Committee by an announcement published in the Government Gazette (section 14). A licence is valid for four years and can only be renewed if the experiment is still in accordance with the rule, procedure, and conditions prescribed by the Ministerial Regulations (section 28). A licence can be suspended, at which date the person must stop using or producing animals for scientific purposes (section 17).

Chapter 3 of the Act provides for control for procedures on animals for scientific purposes, covering the requirements for the establishments, procedures on sales, import and export, transportation, storage and carcasses of animals etc.

Chapter 4 grants power to a competent official under the Criminal Code to inspect the establishment and to verify whether the experiment complies with conditions prescribed in the licence, to search the establishment and to summon the licensee to provide any document necessary to check whether the establishment operates legally. The Act further provides for the offences and penalties in Chapter 6.

Analysis

The existing Ethical Principles and Guidelines for the Use of Animals affirm the Three Rs principles – replacement, reduction, refinement – however, these Guidelines are not legally binding, which limits their applicability.

The Prevention of Cruelty to Animals and Provision of Animal Welfare Act prohibits cruelty acts towards animals, yet it exempts any veterinary surgery or animal experiments from being included in this anti-cruelty provisions.

Since this Index was first published in 2014, the 2015 Animals for Scientific Purposes Act B.E. 2558 was enacted, in an attempt to align Thailand’s legislation in this area with good international standards. This Act is the first piece of legislation directly addressing the use of animals for scientific experiments. The purpose of this Act is the ‘supervision and promotion of procedures on animals for scientific purposes in harmony with universal ethics and standard for protecting animal life and welfare, promoting national academic progress, as well as promoting researchers to have universally recognised achievement’. The Act is effective at mainstreaming animal welfare since it notes that ‘the care or use of animals for scientific purposes without proper technical or ethical control for caring or using animals may cause unnecessary pain, suffering or death to animals, which directly affect the quality of product or scientific achievement, and continuously deteriorate human and animal life and environment.’

Moreover, it is positive for animal welfare that this law requires a licence to be obtained prior to conducting any experiment using an animal. The Committee for Supervision and Promotion of Procedures on Animals for Scientific Purposes (CSPA) mandates ethical requirements that all animal experiments have to abide by. It is positive for animal welfare that this multi-stakeholder committee comprises members of animal welfare organisations.

The enactment of the 2015 Animals for Scientific Purposes Act demonstrates the Government’s willingness to elevate Thailand’s legislation on experiments to international standards. The Thai Prime Minister has control of the execution of this Act (section 4), which shows that even the highest level of governmental authority is willing to promote better standards of care for animals used in experiments. Furthermore, the Act authorises government officials to inspect premises where animal testing is conducted and, if necessary, revoke the licence under which the experiment can be performed. Therefore, there does not appear to have any political barrier to enhancing the welfare of animals used for research.

This Act, however, does not mention the Three Rs principles. As such, the Act does not prohibit unnecessary pain and suffering to be inflicted onto animals used for experiments; nor the performance of experiments on live animals.

Furthermore, the Act does not ban the use of animals for cosmetics testing. There does not seem to be any legislation regulating this practice in Thailand.

Enforcement Mechanisms

Cruel ill-treatment, killing with unnecessary suffering, or unreasonably overworking an animal, is punishable with imprisonment of up to one month and/or a fine of up to 1,000 baht (section 381, 382 Criminal Code).

In addition, Chapter 6 of the 2015 Animals for Scientific Purposes Act B.E. 2558 provides penalties for not complying with the provisions of the Act. Any person who fails to comply with the summons of the ethics committee or fails to facilitate the work of the competent official shall be liable to a fine not exceeding 10,000 baht (US$315) (Section 41). Any person not complying with regulations with regards to the construction of an establishment shall be liable with a fine up to 50,000 baht (US$1,575) (Section 42). Any person who conducts an experiment without a licence can be imprisoned for up to a year and/or fined up to 100,000 baths (US$3,145) (Section 43). The accused has 30 days to pay the assigned fine (Section 47).

Key Recommendations

• Since the API was first published in 2014, Thailand has made progress with regards to improving the welfare of animals used for scientific experiments, since it enacted its first legislation dedicated to this category of animals. The 2015 Animals for Scientific Purposes Act B.E. 2558 provides that a licence must be obtained before carrying out an experiment involving animals. The licence is only granted when the experiment abides by pre-determined ethical criteria. The Committee in charge of establishing such criteria includes representatives from animal welfare organisations. For all these reasons, the government of Thailand should be applauded for enacting this Act.

• However, this Act does not prohibit animal testing for cosmetics products. The Government of Thailand is urged to enact such a ban, in order to live up to international standards.

• Moreover, the Government of Thailand is invited to mandate a prohibition on unnecessary pain and suffering inflicted onto animals used for experiments. Similarly, the Act could be amended to enshrine the Three Rs principles, which are currently only present in non-binding ethical guidelines.

• The Government of Thailand is also encouraged to allocate funding to the development of alternatives to animal use in research. The Government is encouraged to continue engaging with animal welfare organisations in order to promote alternatives to animal experiments.

E

Protecting the welfare of wild animals

It appears that the anti-cruelty provisions in section 381 of the Criminal Code apply to this category of animals.

The 2014 Prevention of Cruelty to Animals and Provision of Animal Welfare Act is applicable to ‘any animal living in nature as prescribed by the Minister’, being the Minister of Agriculture and Cooperatives in charge of this Act. Anti-cruelty provisions outlined in section 20 would therefore apply to this category of animals. However, it remains unclear which species have been decided by the Minister to be included in this Act. Moreover, this Act contains no provision specifically dedicated to hunting. Section 21(6) allows for the slaughter of any animal in case of self-defence or to prevent damage against property.

The Wildlife Preservation and Protection Act B.E. 2535, enacted in 1992 and amended in 2014, covers a broad range of wildlife including ‘all kinds of animals either terrestrial or aquatic, fowls, insects or arthropods which naturally exist, or things which originated from or are found by nature and able to sustain life in the forest and includes insects’ eggs of all kinds’. Hunting is allowed in self-defence or for a reasonable cause (section 7), although if the hunted wildlife is a preserved or protected wildlife, the Act mandates immediate reporting of the death to authorities (section 7(3)).

Hunting (section 16), propagating (section 18), keeping (section 19) or trading in preserved or protected wildlife (or their carcasses) are banned unless performed by an official or covered by an exception under section 26. Section 26 sets out that an official, after receiving written permission from the Director General of the Royal Forest Department or of the Department of Fisheries for aquatic animals, may hunt, propagate, keep or trade any wildlife (even endangered) if this was done for the purposes of surveying, education and scientific research, the protection of wildlife, propagation or conducting a public zoo operation.

Chapter 2 also establishes the National Wildlife Preservation and Protection Committee. Section 15 lays out the power and duties of the Committee. Among others, the Committee is thus in charge of determining of wildlife sanctuaries, non-hunting wildlife areas and the category of wildlife hunting prohibited; listing species subject to protection; governing the implementation of the Act and stipulating any inspection in accordance with the Act.

The Minister shall have the power to declare wildlife sanctuaries by announcement in the Royal Gazette, although such sanctuaries may not include privately owned land (section 42). Virtually no activities are allowed in a wildlife sanctuary without permit from the Director-General.

Since the API was first published, the 2014 amendment to the Wildlife Preservation and Protection Act made the African elephants a protected species in Thailand. The changes impose new penalties for illegal trade or possession of African elephant ivory of up to four years imprisonment.

A new Wildlife Preservation and Protection Act 2019 will formally be enforced in December 2019. The new Act distinguishes between five categories of wildlife – preserved, protected, controlled and dangerous wildlife, as well as wildlife carcasses.

Moreover, Thailand has enacted the Elephant Ivory Tusks Act B.E. 2558 in 2015. The Act mandates that any person who wishes to trade elephant ivory tusks shall submit an application form to the Director General of the Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conversation (section 4). Unless permitted by the Director General, no one shall import, export or possess for transit elephant ivory tusks (section 5). A permit holder shall comply with regulations under the Ministerial Regulation and conditions specified in a permit (section 5). Any person, who possesses elephant ivory tusks without commercial objective, shall notify the possession enclosing document for acquisition of the elephant ivory tusks under the law of beasts of burden to the Director General (section 6). The Director General thereafter provides a document acknowledging possession. If someone is found in possession of ivory tusks without a permit, the tusks shall be given to the Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation. However, this permit requirement does not apply to someone owning elephant ivory tusks according to feature or seize notified and prescribed by the Minister (section 8). Anyone who possessed ivory tusks before the enactment of this Act shall also apply for a permit of possession (section 19).

Section 9 outlines that an official under the Penal Code has the power to inspect and search a place or vehicle where it has reasonable cause to suspect that an offence under this Act is occurring, and to seize any tusks that are not associated with a permit.

Analysis

At present, there is no legislation protecting wild animals not listed as protected or preserved species. The fact that the relatively new Prevention of Cruelty to Animals and Provision of Animal Welfare Act does not explicitly protect all wild animals from cruelty acts is an impediment to mainstreaming animal welfare.

The 1992 Wildlife Preservation and Protection Act B.E. 2535 focuses more on species conservation, rather than on the welfare of individual animals – the words ‘welfare’ or ‘wellbeing’ do not even feature in the legislation. Moreover, section 26 of the Act creates massive loopholes for the protection of wild animals. Indeed, the Act effectively allows any official to apply for a permit from the Forest or Fisheries department to hunt, propagate, keep or trade protected species for a wide variety of purposes, including scientific research. All these purposes are loosely defined, and it appears that it could be relatively easy to justify killing an endangered species for alleged research purposes. In fact, the Act forbids the hunting or attempted killing of protected wild animals, unless it is done for certain educational or research purposes specifically permitted by the Minister. No one is allowed to breed protected wild animals, or to possess such animals or their carcasses, except in certain cases related to public zoos or other permitted educational or research purposes. The import or export of protected wild animals or their carcasses is prohibited, except in the case of animals derived from breeding. Furthermore, the Act does not contain any provisions with regards to humane killing methods.

Thailand has a thriving ivory market, since the country allows trading in ivory from domesticated Thai elephants. In March 2013, at the opening of the Convention on the International Trade in Endangered Species of Fauna and Flora (CITES) in Bangkok, Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra pledged to start a legislative process to end ivory trade in the country. However, a 2014 report published by TRAFFIC found that ivory sales had tripled in Thailand since that commitment.  In a July 2014 CITES meeting, the represented governments voted to institute trade sanctions against Thailand unless the country takes measures by March 2015 to stop domestic trade in illegal elephant ivory.  

In response to threats of international trade sanctions by CITES, Thailand submitted a revised National Ivory Action Plan in 2014 and passed the Elephant Ivory Tusks Act the following years. The law requires ivory traders and owners to register their stocks with authorities. Between 2015 and 2017, the animal welfare NGO Wild Aid reports that over 220 tons of ivory has been registered.   

The Elephant Ivory Tusks Act is a step in the right direction to protect wild elephants form being poached for their tusks. However, the Act leaves out the fate of captive elephants. In August 2015, the Thai government also destroyed over two tonnes of confiscated ivory, which illustrates the government’s determination to crackdown on the illegal ivory trade. There appears to be political willingness to tackle the ivory trade.

However, examples have proven that legal ivory sales serve to provide a cover for illegal trade. Since October 2015, Thai customs has made four seizures of ivory originating from Africa, amounting to more than 800 kg. The latest seizure in April 2016 was more than 300 kg. Such seizures prove that there are still economic barriers that prevent the ivory trade from being shut down.  

Enforcement Mechanisms

Cruel ill-treatment or killing with unnecessary suffering is punishable with imprisonment of up to one month and/or a fine of up to 1,000 baht (section 381 Criminal Code).

Chapter 8 of the 1992 Wildlife Preservation and Protection Act B.E. 2535 contains penal provisions for offences under the Act. Anyone hunting, keeping, trading, import or export wildlife and their carcasses shall be punished with imprisonment up to four years and/or with a fine not exceeding 40,000 baht (US$1,250) (section 47). Anyone found propagating a species without authorisation of the Director General shall be punished with imprisonment up to three years and/or with a fine not exceeding 30,000 baht (US$950) (section 48).

Under the 2019 Wildlife Preservation and Protection Act, the following violations are punishable by substantially increased prison terms, fines, or both:
- Import, export, or transfer of preserved wildlife, carcasses of preserved wildlife, or products made from preserved wildlife;
- Collection, endangerment, or keeping of preserved wildlife;
- Hunting preserved wildlife or protected wildlife;
- Keeping preserved wildlife that can be propagated (to be named by ministerial notification) without the proper certificate; and
- Trading preserved wildlife or preserved wildlife that can be propagated without the proper certificate.

Moreover, the 2015 Elephant Ivory Tusks Act includes penalties for offences. Section 13 mandates that anyone found in possession of or trading elephant tusks without the appropriate permit is liable to imprisonment for up to three years and/or to a fine up to six million baht (US$190,000). Anyone who fails to notify the possession of ivory tusks to the Director General is liable to a fine up to three million baht (US$190,000). If someone is not facilitating the tasks of the Competent Official doing inspection, the person shall be liable to a fine up to 50,000 baht (US$1,570).

Key Recommendations

• Human activities impacting wild animals are mainly regulated through the 1992 Wildlife Preservation and Protection Act. However, this Act solely concerns endangered and protected species. There exists an obvious lack of protection for wild animals in Thailand. To remedy this gap. the Government of Thailand is encouraged to expand the scope of the Act, so that it applies to all wild species, rather than only endangered and protected species.

• In addition, the Government of Thailand is encouraged to amend the Act by deleting section 26, which currently introduces loopholes in the protection of endangered species, since it allows them to be killed, collected and traded for education, scientific research or to build a zoo.

• Moreover, the 2014 Prevention of Cruelty and Provision of Animal Welfare Act is applicable only to five species of wild animals, namely: the hybrid tiger, civet, pigeon, wild boar and squirrel. The Government of Thailand is encouraged to expand the application of this Act to all wild animals.

• The Government of Thailand is encouraged to ban any form of hunting that does not directly support subsistence i.e. to feed oneself and one’s family and not for commercial gain. Subsistence hunting operations must employ the least cruel methods of hunting and slaughter, and that all possible efforts should be made to reduce the time to death of animals killed in these hunts. At a minimum, the Government is strongly encouraged to forbid the cruellest hunting methods.

• It should be highlighted that since the API was first published in 2014, the government of Thailand has enacted the Elephant Ivory Tusks Act, dedicated to strengthening the protection of wild elephants. However, the legislation does not relate to the captive elephant populations present in the country, and hence still authorises the domestic trade in ivory taken from captive elephants. However, However, there is evidence that a legal ivory trade can be used to launder illegally obtained ivory. Therefore, the Government of Thailand is urged to ban altogether its ivory trade, including the trade in tusks from captive elephants. The government of Thailand is highly encouraged to take inspiration from other countries, such as China, currently phasing out their ivory trade. In addition, it is recommended that Thailand amend section 8 of the Elephant Ivory Tusks Act, so that everyone owning elephant tusks prior to the enactment of the Act shall request a permit.

Establishment of supportive government bodies

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.

B

Government accountability for animal welfare

The Department of Livestock Development has powers in legislation to make regulations on areas concerning animals used in farming (under Article 32 of the State Administration Act B.E. 2534 of 1991), and regulations about poultry welfare have been made under these powers.

Section 9 of the Wildlife Preservation and Protection Act BE. 2535 (1992) established the National Wildlife Preservation and Protection Committee, which consists of government representatives from various divisions, and other expert members who are representatives of any Society or Foundation related to wildlife. However, this legislation is focused on conservation rather than on the welfare of individual animals.

Since the API was first published, the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals and Provision of Animal Welfare Act was enacted in 2014. The Act provides for the creation of the Animal Anti-Cruelty and Welfare Committee in Chapter 1. The Committee is made of representatives from various Ministries, such as Agriculture, Education, Religious Affairs, Public Relations, Fisheries, International Organisations, Conservation, Health and Tourism (section 5). In addition, the Committee comprises up to seven experts appointed by the Minister of Agriculture and Cooperatives, who chairs the Committee. Those considered experts are any dean of the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, any representative of animal welfare association, any representative of animal organisation or assistance establishment registered under this Act, and any person who is knowledgeable, expert or experienced in regard to the animal anti-cruelty and welfare in accordance with the criteria, procedures and conditions prescribed by the Minister (section 5).

Section 8 outlines the duties and power of the Committee. Namely, the Committee is in charge of proposing to the Minister animal welfare policies and raising awareness on animal welfare issues; commenting on the revision and amendment of animal welfare legislations; defining the criteria used to monitor the performance of animal welfare under this Act; consider any appeal under this Act and take any other action as assigned by the Minister. The Committee shall meet at least twice a year and decisions are taken on a majority-basis, with each member having an equal say (section 9).  

Moreover, the 2015 Animals for Scientific Purposes Act B.E. 2558 created the Committee for the Supervision and Promotion of Procedures on Animals for Scientific Purposes (CSPA). This multi-stakeholder Committee comprises, among others, representatives from various Ministries, private sector organisations using animal testing and animal protection organisations (section 5). The CSPA is responsible for determining policy supervising procedures on animals for scientific purposes as to comply with international standards, as well as to determine the ethical procedures that animal experiments should abide by.

The 2015 Animals for Scientific Purposes mandates that the Committee for Supervision and Promotion of Procedures on Animals for Scientific Purposes (CSPA) report to the Council of Ministers on operation result of procedures on animals for scientific purposes of various agencies (section 8(7)). In addition, any official involved in inspecting an establishment to verify whether it is abiding by the ethics rules surrounding animal experiment shall submit a report to the Secretary General of the National Research Council of Thailand within seven days from the date of the inspection (section 36).

Analysis

It is positive that the 2014 Prevention of Cruelty to Animals and Provision of Animal Welfare Act created a collaborative board across different Ministries and Departments to oversee the smooth implementation of the Act. The Animal Anti-Cruelty and Welfare Committee is responsible for the implementation of the Act, and integrates representatives from animal welfare organisations, thus allowing for broader issues and alternative perspectives to be taken into consideration.

Similarly, the CSPA is helpful to mainstream the welfare of animals used in research, since its mission is to develop ethical guidelines surrounding the use of animals in research.

The committee established under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals and Provision of Animal Welfare Act has the scope to reach many different areas of animal welfare and to work at a high-level of government. This is evidence that the government is willing to put human resources into ensuring compliance and oversight at a high government level. Incorporation of many facets of government as well as experts from NGOs into the Animal Anti-Cruelty and Welfare Committee should increase the likelihood of overcoming barriers posed by traditions that may be contrary to current international animal welfare standards. However, the Act does not mention any funding allocated by the Government to the function of the Animal Anti-Cruelty and Welfare Committee.

Enforcement Mechanisms

• The Government of Thailand has allocated responsibility for animal welfare at the national level through the creation of the Animal Anti-Cruelty and Welfare Committee, with a wide remit of responsibility. It is positive that this Committee comprises representatives from animal welfare organisations.

• However, the powers of the Committee may be limited by inconsistent funding: the Government of Thailand is encouraged to commit to regularly fund the Committee, in order to ensure the enforcement of animal welfare standards.

• Moreover, the Animal Anti-Cruelty and Welfare Committee is invited to liaise with representatives from private sector organisations using animals, in order to engage in discussions aiming at removing potential economic barriers blocking the improvement of animal welfare standards.

• Thailand has progressed since the first issue of the API in 2014, since it created in 2015 the Committee for the Supervision and Promotion of Procedures on Animals for Scientific Purposes (CSPA). This multi-stakeholder Committee is invited to keep up to date with international standards on animal welfare for animals used in research, noting that many countries and coalition of countries such as the European Union have banned the use of animal testing for cosmetic products.

Support for international animal welfare standards

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.

D

OIE animal welfare standards

The OIE Animal Welfare Standards focus on transport, slaughter, production systems (beef cattle, broiler chickens, dairy cattle), stray dog population control, the use of animals in research and education, and working equids.
 
The 2014 Prevention of Cruelty to Animals and the Provision of Animal Welfare Act demonstrates that the Government is making efforts to align Thai legislation more closely with OIE’s guiding principles and standards. However, the Act falls short of respecting OIE’s standards due to the numerous exemptions from animal cruelty provisions, listed in section 21. For instance, the legislation does not prescribe humane slaughter and allows for religious slaughter to be practiced without prior stunning. Therefore, the Thai legislation does not abide by the OIE’s standards for slaughter.

Moreover, without any legislation regulating the management stray dog populations, Thai legislation also falls short of respecting the OIE standards for stray dog population controls.

The enactment of the 2015 Animals for Scientific Purposes Act aims to align Thai legislation with international standards in terms of animal testing. However, the Act does not mandate to abide by the Three Rs principles and could be improved by forbidding animal testing on cosmetics.

Further development is encouraged, in particular in the areas of the use of animals in agriculture and stray dog population control.

Analysis

Other than in poultry farming and basic anti-cruelty laws, the bulk of the existing legislative protection for animals is for those species on the protected and preserved lists, such as through the establishment of animal sanctuaries and no hunting zones (section 36 Wildlife Preservation and Protection Act). Cruel ill-treatment of animals is a petty offence in the Thai Criminal Code (sections 381 and 382).

The enactment of the 2014 Prevention of Cruelty and Provision of Animal Welfare Act is a positive step towards matching Thai legislation with international animal welfare standards. However, the Act has not fully engaged with the OIE’s guiding principles on animal welfare, since it grants many exemptions to animal cruelty criteria (section 21). For instance, by allowing animal fights to take place on the ground of traditions, the Act falls short of preserving animal welfare.

Furthermore, the 2015 Animals for Scientific Purposes Act does not explicitly prohibit the infliction of unnecessary pain and suffering onto animals used for scientific research and does not mandate the application of the Three Rs principles – replacement, reduction, refinement. Therefore, the Act could be amended to align more closely with OIE standards.

The Act falls short of certain OIE’s standards: the fact that some cruel behaviours, such as animal fights, are still authorised by legislation on the ground of tradition shows that there might be some cultural barriers to enhancing welfare standards.

Enforcement Mechanisms

There are enforcement mechanisms (fines and imprisonment) for those of the OIE’s standards which are incorporated in legislation.

Key Recommendations

• Since the API was first published in 2014, the Government of Thailand has enacted the Prevention of Animal Cruelty and Provision of Animal Welfare Act in 2014 and the Animals for Scientific Purposes Act in 2015. Both Acts bring animal welfare legislation in Thailand closer to OIE’s standards. However, these Acts still fall short of meeting OIE’s standards in certain domains, such as stray dog population management and slaughter regulations. Therefore, the Government of Thailand is encouraged to implement secondary legislation to provide detailed regulations in relevant areas of animal use.

• Furthermore, the Government of Thailand is encouraged to promote a more thorough application of the Three Rs principles (Replacement, Reduction, Refinement), notably through the work of the Committee for Supervision and Promotion of Procedures on Animals for Scientific Purposes (CSPA).

Support for the Universal Declaration on Animal Welfare

The Government of Thailand has pledged support for the Universal Declaration for Animal Welfare through statements from the Minister of Agriculture and Cooperatives in 2008, as well as the Minister of Natural Resources and Environment in 2010.

Note: The UDAW is a proposed formal international acknowledgement 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.

Analysis

Support for the UDAW is an important step in integrating animal protection into Thai legislation and into discussion. Following declarations for support from the Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives and the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment, the draft of the country’s first animal welfare legislation was produced. The Bill of Prevention of Cruelty to Animals and Provision of Animal Welfare Act, whilst limited in scope, is a positive initial step to set Thailand in a new direction in terms of recognition. As it stands today, the Prevention of Animal Cruelty and Provision of Animal Welfare Act is not fully compliant with all the principles of the UDAW, but it brings the country closer to these and therefore to include the concept of animal welfare in other policy processes.  

Enforcement Mechanisms

There are no enforcement mechanisms relevant to this indicator.

Key Recommendations

• Thailand has provided government support to UDAW, through a declaration from the Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives in 2008, and through the Minister of Natural Resources and Environment in 2010. Thailand should act as an example for other countries to pledge support in principle to UDAW.

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Executive Summary

There have been several key changes in the legal protection of animals in Thailand since the first publication of the API. Namely, the Prevention of Animal Cruelty and Provision of Animal Welfare Act was enacted in 2014 and constitutes the main animal welfare legislation at present. Animal cruelty is prohibited in Section 17. In 2015, the Elephant Ivory Tusks Act B.E. 2558 was enacted. This legislation requires a special permit for trading in elephant ivory tusks. Furthermore, the Animals for Scientific Purposes Act B.E. 2558 was also brought into power in 2015. This Act defines procedures on the use of animals for scientific purposes to bring Thai practices in line with international animal welfare standards.

However, the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals and Provision of Animal Welfare Act contains clear loopholes or compromises and fails to comprehensively protect animals. Notably, Section 18 of the Act lists exemptions to cruelty considerations, which includes all slaughter procedures. Religious slaughter is allowed, which means that animals can be killed without being stunned prior to slaughter. Farm animal mutilations are also allowed. The Act also exempts animal experiments from being included in this anti-cruelty provisions. Moreover, animal fights are also explicitly allowed in legislation. In addition to the above, there is a lack of regulations with regards to stray animal populations management, the dog meat trade, as well as the rearing and transport of several farm animals.

In Thailand, the Department of Livestock Development has powers in legislation to make regulations on areas concerning farm animals. Moreover, the Prevention of Animal Cruelty and Provision of Animal Welfare Act provides for the creation of the Animal Anti-Cruelty and Welfare Committee. The Committee is charged with proposing animal welfare policies and monitoring the implementation of the Act. Thailand should be highlighted as an example for other countries to follow, since its legislation mandates the inclusion of animal welfare organisations in the highest decision-making authorities with regards to animal welfare. Animal welfare organisations are represented in the Animal Anti-Cruelty and Welfare Committee, as well as within the Committee for Supervision and Promotion of Procedures on Animals for Scientific Purposes (CSPA), dedicated to the use of animals for scientific experiments.

The Government of Thailand is strongly encouraged to formally enshrine animal sentience into law and, from the recognition that all vertebrates, cephalopods and decapod crustaceans are sentient, the Government of Thailand is urged to amend the Prevention of Animal Cruelty and Provision of Animal Welfare Act, in order to remove the exceptions to animal cruelty, such as slaughter and scientific procedures. Moreover, the Government of Thailand is urged to ban the dog meat trade, recognising that the production of dog meat involves enormous animal cruelty. Similarly, the Government of Thailand is encouraged to ban the organisation of animal fights. The Government of Thailand is also encouraged to provide more detailed, species-specific welfare requirements with regards to the rearing of farm animals, the keeping of wild animals in captivity and stray animal population management. Further legal and policy recommendations are associated with each Animal Protection Index (API) indicator and contained in the relevant sections of this report.

Date of information: 10/03/2020
Population 
66,785,001
GDP 
$365,965,815,820 (2012)
GDP (PPP) 
$9,815 (2012)
Education expenditure (% of GDP) 
5.8 (2011)