This week, guest writer, Marine Baptista Rosa, explores animal protection laws in Finland.
Despite its modest population of 5,5 million people, Finland is home to a vibrant animal protection advocacy movement. Animal justice is an increasingly present topic on university curriculums and in the political agenda.
Finnish animal protection law
Due to its membership in the European Union (EU), Finland’s national law on animal protection is bound by EU treaties and EU animal law. It also has its own domestic legislation. The most important national legislation on animal protection is the Animal Welfare Act, which applies to all animals.
The Animal Welfare Act contains provisions on a variety of specific topics ranging from animal competitions, the keeping and care of animals in performances, circuses, and zoos to inspection rules.
In addition to the Animal Welfare Act, Finland has special rules on hunting, fishing, veterinary medication, animal breeding, artificial propagation of animals, animal testing on vertebrates, animal transportation, gene technology, and nature conservation.
For some examples, check out the Animal Transport Act, the Act on the Use of Animals for Experimental Purposes, and the Hunting Act, all of which have specific animal welfare provisions.
In Finland, the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry is the highest authority steering and controlling the enforcement of animal welfare legislation. Operating right under the Ministry, the Finnish Food Authority is the central government authority responsible for monitoring the wellbeing of animals used in agriculture.
The Regional State Administrative Agencies oversee the compliance of the law in their respective regions. Finally, the main authorities controlling animal welfare control at the local level are municipal veterinarians, veterinary officers, animal protection supervisors, and the police.
However, despite these protections, the active community and the fact 74% of Finnish citizens being opposed to fur farming activities, the country remains the world’s largest fox fur producer.
The good news is that, in August 2020, the Social Democratic Party of Finland (SDP), which is the largest political party in the country, and current Prime Minister Sanna Marin’s party, committed to working towards ending fur farming and fur sales in Finland within a reasonable transition period.
Further to this, a group of Finnish lawyers and legal scholars - The Finnish Animal Rights Lawyers Society – has submitted a legislative proposal on fundamental animal rights to be included in the Constitution of Finland. The proposal aims at strengthening the legal status of animals in the Finnish Constitution.
Social pressure proved effective on the historic stand against fur farming, although that was only a first step. Hopefully, civil demand might ignite even further strides for a better future for animals in Finland.
This post is not legal advice and should not be relied on as such. If you require legal advice on animal protection laws please contact email@example.com