The Plenary of the Judiciary will debate on Thursday a critical text with the new modification of the Penal Code
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The Plenary Session of the General Council of the Judiciary (CGPJ) will debate next Thursday the proposal for a report on the Draft Organic Law to amend the Criminal Code on animal abuse. It is a critical report written by the progressive vocal Roser Bach, with which the Government will once again reform criminal legislation and where the governing body of judges once again warns that tougher penalties for this type of crime may compromise the principle of proportionality.
In the text, it is explained that if the crime of injuries to vertebrate animals that do not require veterinary treatment is compared with the minor crime of injuries to people who do not require medical or surgical treatment, the penalty is the same, that is, a penalty a fine of one to three months.
In the report, to which EL MUNDO has had access, it is stated that in these cases “the penalty provided coincides with that established for the minor crime of injuring people, who do not require medical or surgical treatment for their health (article 147.2 of the Penal Code).
Similarly, the CGPJ warns that “in the case of the crime of animal injuries that do not require medical or surgical treatment, as an alternative to a fine, a penalty of work for the benefit of the community of 31 to 90 days, which requires that this crime, in accordance with the provisions of article 33.3.l) of the Penal Code, must be classified as less serious, and not as minor, as is the case with crimes of injuries without medical or surgical treatment. In person”.
The judges explain that even given the alternative sentence to imprisonment, that of work for the benefit of the community, in that provided for the crime of mistreatment “is fixed for a period of thirty-one to eighty days, which is less than prevention for animal abuse, which can be extended from thirty-one to ninety days”.
Likewise, emphasis is placed on another case in which the principle of proportionality may be affected, which is the penalty provided for animal abuse when the aggravating circumstance of having committed the acts to cause harm to whoever is or has been the author’s spouse occurs. The prison sentence provided for in the bill for this case is higher than that currently set for the minor offense of coercion, minor threats, injuries that do not require medical or surgical treatment or mistreatment in the workplace. of violence against women.
On the other hand, the presentation by the Judiciary emphasizes that the purpose of the reform is to adapt the law to social expectations and put an end to the sensation of widespread impunity for animal abuse. To achieve this objective, the projected norm creates a new title within the Penal Code that, under the rubric “crimes against animals”, contains the crimes of animal abuse, thus separating them from the crimes against flora and fauna existing in the text. punitive.
The legal draft includes an important change regarding the protected legal right, which is now broadly extended to “all vertebrate animals”, regardless of whether or not they are under human control. This option, according to the text that the governing body of judges will study, should be expressed in the rubric given to the new title and poses important problems in reconciling the protection of animals with the protection that must also be given to other legal assets, such as they are public health or the environment, inform legal sources.
“On more than one occasion, the defense of these legal rights will conflict with the protection of the physical integrity or even the life of the vertebrate animal” and will require an immediate response that will not always be supported by laws or other provisions. , dictated prior to the reform, which justify the conduct in question, collects the paper.
Conflict with hunting
Another conflict is the one that, according to the presentation, will be generated in relation to crimes related to the protection of flora and fauna, which are not affected by the future reform. It is possible that there is a conflict of rules between the conduct that is typified in the new art. 337 bis 3which penalizes the intentional death of a vertebrate animal, and the already existing crime that punishes hunting or fishing of protected, endangered or non-protected species, when hunting or fishing is expressly prohibited by law, a criminal offense that sanctions behaviors that, in most cases, cause the death of vertebrate animals.
Also the use of the term “intentionally” causes confusion, according to the proposed report. Conducts that cause injuries or death due to imprudence to the vertebrate animal are not classified as a crime, so for the death of a vertebrate animal to be considered a crime, it must necessarily be intentional.
The text to be examined by the Plenary also warns of the lack of definition in which the bill incurs when using the objective need for veterinary treatment as an element to grade the seriousness of the crime without specifying what should be understood by veterinary treatment or whether surveillance should be included or not. o Injury control o The first medical appointment. This lack of definition “creates a problem whose solution is transferred to the courts and tribunals, which will be the ones that, in application of the projected norm, must give content to this new element”, the paper points out.
Imprisonment substitutable by fine
According to the explanatory statement of the preliminary draft submitted by the Government, this intends to put an end to what it describes as “a generalized feeling of impunity for animal abuse, with ineffective penalties for such actions and lacking deterrent effects” by tightening the penalties. . The pre-legislator points out, in this sense, that the sentences to be currently imposed are usually less than two years, which is why the convicted do not go to prison as they can be suspended or replaced.
The report proposal includes, however, that the draft does not achieve what it announces as the first and essential justification for the reform, since although both in the case of injuries and in the death of the animal the penalties of prison, in both cases the penalty of a fine continues to be maintained alternatively.
The presentation by the member Roser Bach also warns of the danger involved in linking the possible substitution or suspension of custodial sentences with criminal impunity, when they are mechanisms that do not act automatically and whose objective is to reconcile the jus puniendi -the punitive power of the State- with the principles of reeducation and social reinsertion contemplated by the Spanish Constitution within the catalog of fundamental rights and public liberties.