In recent years, the Socialist Republic of Vietnam has solidified its position in global economics as one of south-east Asia’s fastest growing economies. Unfortunately, animal protection law in the country has not kept pace with these developments. This week guest writer Jenna Green will consider that while Vietnam has taken some encouraging first steps recently, in the form of new legislation prohibiting the maltreatment of animals, the protection provided is limited at best.
Animal rights in Vietnam are currently governed by the Law on Animal Health 2015 (LAH 2015), and the Law on Animal Husbandry 2018 (LAH 2018). The LAH 2015 asserts a duty of care upon individuals and organisations in possession of animals, whilst the LAH 2018 mandates against ill-treatment of livestock in regard to rearing, transport, slaughter and scientific research. Unfortunately, the rhetoric present in both laws suggests that the provisions outlined prioritise human welfare as opposed to animal protection. For example, LAH 2018 asserts that all domestic dogs and cats must be vaccinated against rabies, with no further specifications regarding their welfare. When observed in conjunction with the current legal status of the dog meat trade, this single stipulation indicates a clear predilection for human health and economic interests.
Decree 32/2006/ND-CP provides the main authority for the protection of wild animals, prohibiting trapping, hunting, keeping and slaughtering of endangered and rare wild animals, alongside forbidding their trading, transporting, exporting, importing and advertising. However, this Decree prioritises conservation as opposed to the protection of welfare. It states that species may be obtained from the wild for scientific research when a permit is granted, with no expansion on the way in which this should be done or how the animals should be treated thereafter. Additionally, there are no express laws on the hunting of those animals which do not fall within Decree 32/2006/ND-CP.
Both LAH 2015 and LAH 2018 assert protective measures over the treatment of livestock. However, there are no express stipulations regarding the rearing of any species under this category. LAH 2018 also goes on to express a requirement that livestock are to become ‘faint’ prior to slaughter, an ambiguous term which does not entail that they must be fully unconscious. Furthermore, LAH 2018 establishes that animals must experience limited trauma during transport, with access to food and water at all times. Unfortunately, the permission of long-distance live transport negates the welfare provisions in place; the extensive time spent in transit would exert undue stress upon any animal.
While there is evidence that Vietnam has been gradually improving its animal protection laws, it is apparent that there is still a long way to go to protect animals adequately. Both LAH 2015 and LAH 2018 require amendments outlining clearer provisions on welfare, alongside the acknowledgment of animal sentience in legislation. Furthermore, the disparities between the rights of different species highlights an ethically erroneous and arbitrary approach to animal protection.
We can only hope that external pressure, including reports from the Animal Protection Index and the Environmental Investigation Agency will encourage the Vietnamese government to update its legislation and acknowledge the significance of protecting animals in all spheres.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org