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No one can be found to execute court judgement ordering destruction of dangerous animal

Regulations inadequate

The regulations on executing a court judgement ordering the destruction of a dangerous animal are inadequate and unclear, Deputy-Ombudsman Jussi Pajuoja finds. He has recommended to the Council of State (Government) that it take urgent measures to redress the shortcomings in legislation.

A complaint received by the Ombudsman contained a request to examine the actions of the authorities when no one was found to execute an order by the Joensuu District Court that two dangerous dogs be destroyed. The complainants had been referred from one authority to another and it had taken unduly long to deal with the matter.

The North Karelia Distraint Office had pointed out that only the State had authority to act in the matter, because what was involved was a sanction under criminal law.  Thus the interested parties could not request execution.
 
The Legal Register Centre, in turn, told the complainants to turn to the police. The police had gone with a veterinarian to the place where the dogs were believed to be, but they had been taken elsewhere.

Earlier, the Ministry of Justice had issued a guideline advising district courts that they should relay an order to destroy an animal directly to the police, who were regarded as having the authority to execute the order under the provisions of the Police Act.

Issuance of guidelines was transferred to the Legal Register Centre in 2010. When the authority configuration relating to orders to destroy animals became unclear, the Legal Register Centre deleted the mention of an obligation to notify from the guidelines.

The Ombudsman has received information about also similar cases elsewhere. Deputy-Ombudsman Pajuoja finds it regrettable that in the absence of clear regulations the authorities are failing to carry out execution measures.

Additional info will be provided by Senior Legal Adviser Eero Kallio, tel. + 358 (0)9 432 3342.