Flanders promises stronger punishment for cruelty to animals


Dedicated inspection teams will monitor slaughterhouses in the region and repeat offenders will face up to 18 months in jail

Turning point

Flanders’ minister for animal welfare is promising stronger punishments for animal abuse in the coming year.

“2018 will be a turning point in the struggle for better animal welfare,” said Ben Weyts (N-VA). To ensure this, his ministry is introducing an inspection team that will specifically monitor slaughterhouses; anyone caught mistreating animals risks a jail sentence of up to 18 months.

At the end of last year, the government agreed to strengthen the penalties for animal cruelty. The punishment for repeat offenders will be tripled from six to 18 months’ imprisonment. “Anyone who doesn’t want to listen will feel it,” said Weyts. “If it’s up to me, those who torment animals will be jailed.”

Weyts is also investing €3 million in setting up an inspection team that will specifically monitor operations in slaughterhouses, after a number of abattoirs made headlines last year for animal cruelty. There will also be an officer responsible for animal welfare in every police zone. The new regulations have still to be approved by Flanders’ parliament.

Two West Flanders slaughterhouses were temporarily closed last year after shocking video footage emerged of staff mistreating animals.

Photo: Ingimage