Proposed Animal Welfare Legislation for Sri Lanka
Posted on August 30th, 2012

Senaka Weeraratna Attorney “”…”at -Law

Rationale for new Animal Welfare legislation
“¢In Sri Lanka the laws protecting animals from cruelty and inhumane treatment are archaic and lag behind other countries which have incorporated higher ethical and scientific standards into their legislation
“¢There is a growing public demand in Sri Lanka for better and humane treatment of animals. A part of this public campaign is directed towards the reform of laws governing the care and protection of animals
“¢Good legislation is an important part of the animal welfare environment of any state
“¢It is all the more important in a country such as Sri Lanka which has a proud claim to a rich animal friendly cultural heritage

Current Legislation
“¢The governing legislationis the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Ordinance, No. 13 of 1907
“¢It is an antiquated statute
“¢The form and scope of this legislation is substantially inadequate
“¢Its limitations are apparent when it is compared with animal welfare legislation of neighbouring countries such as India or western countries such as England or Australia

Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Ordinance, No. 13 of 1907The Deficiencies
“¢Does not apply to all animals
The term “ƒ”¹…”Animal’ has been defined as “ƒ”¹…” any domestic or captured animal and includes any bird, fish, or reptile in captivity’
Protection from acts of cruelty limited to “ƒ”¹…”captive’ and “ƒ”¹…”domestic animals’ thereby leaving animals falling outside these categories from the protective arm of the law e.g. stray dogs
“¢Inadequate penalties. The maximum fine of Rs. 100 which may extend to Rs. 200 in the case of a second or subsequent offence, is a ridiculously low amount and hardly acts as a deterrent in today’s context. There has been no change in the quantum of the monetary penalty since 1907. There is no reported case of an offender being given a sentence of imprisonment for causing cruelty to an animal
“¢Lack of a lead agency to administer the legislation
“¢Exclusive reliance on the Police to enforce the legislation despite Police being heavily overburdened with other duties
“¢Inadequate powers granted to the Police to enforce the law

Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Ordinance, No. 13 of 1907The Deficiencies
“¢Lack of broad coverage of animal welfare issues
“¢Lacks adoption of modern day standards to ensure humane treatment of animals
“¢Limited number of animal cruelty offences
“¢Lack of proper Regulations and Codes of Practice to supplement legislation particularly with respect to:
i) Slaughter of animals. Laws in other countries require “ƒ”¹…”humane’ methods
using modern technology to be adopted for slaughter of animals. These new methods are intended to inflict the minimum pain on the animal destined for slaughter
ii) Use of animals for research, teaching activities and experimentation
iii) Transport of animals
iv) Breeding of poultry
v) Loads to be carried or drawn by any animal
vi) Exhibition and training of performing animals

Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Ordinance, No. 13 of 1907The Deficiencies
“¢Insufficiency of the time limit for bringing prosecutions i.e. 3 months from the date of commission of the offence
“¢Lack of recognition of the right of a third party e.g. Animal Welfare Society, to intervene in any legal proceedings as the “ƒ”¹…”next friend’ of an animal, particularly in instances where the perpetrator of the offence happens to be the owner of the animal
“¢The antiquated classification of an animal exclusively as a “ƒ”¹…”chattel’ is ingrained in the existing legislation. It has contributed to impede the recovery of an animal from cruel and irresponsible ownership

The Animal Welfare Bill is the proposed legislation
It is a comprehensive document
It was prepared by the Law Commission of Sri Lanka
after extensive consultations with the public
and examination of laws of other jurisdictions

Objectives of the Animal Welfare Bill
“¢a) recognises a duty of care on part of persons in charge of animals to treat the animals humanely
b) to prevent cruelty to animals and to secure the protection and welfare of animals
c) to establish a National Animal Welfare Authority and to provide for Regulations and Codes of Practice
d) to raise community awareness on animal welfare and foster kindness, compassion, and responsible behaviour towards animals

The proposed legislation seeks to:
i) Replace the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Ordinance, No. 13 of 1907
ii) Bring the law governing animal welfare in Sri Lanka in line with modern legislation by providing for natural justice and basic freedoms to be extended to animals, and
iii) Safeguard and enhance Sri Lanka’s historical reputation for animal welfare

Key Features of the Animal Welfare Bill
“¢The Bill is divided into 14 Parts. Part 10 ( Clause 42 ) deals with “ƒ”¹…” Use of Live Animals for Scientific Purposes’
“¢Applies to all animals
“¢”ƒ”¹…”Animal’ means any living being other than a human being and includes a domestic animal, a farm animal, an animal in captivity, a wild animal, a companion animal, a stray animal, and food animal as hereinafter defined
“¢Adopts a proactive approach to Animal Welfare
“¢Recognition of a Duty of Care “”…”A person who is in charge of an animal owes the animal a duty of care i.e. a duty to take reasonable steps to ensure the well being of the animal, to prevent infliction of unnecessary fear or pain and to provide the animal with basic needs. All other obligations and prohibitions in respect of animals emanate from this basic duty

Key Features of the Animal Welfare Bill
“¢One of the main purposes of the Animal Welfare Bill is the establishment of a new institution i.e. the National Animal Welfare Authority, that will administer the legislation, develop policies, and strengthen and expand the existing enforcement machinery.
“¢The 16 member Authority comprises ten appointed members and six ex “”…”officio members. The latter will be drawn from Govt. Depts. engaged in functions relating to animal welfare.
“¢The 10 appointed members will comprise six members nominated by animal welfare societies, two members with qualifications in Veterinary Science nominated by the Veterinary Council of Sri Lanka, one Ayurvedic physician with experience in treating animals nominated by the Ayurvedic Medical Council, and one person who is a Professor or Senior Lecturer in clinical Veterinary Science of a recognized University nominated by the University Grants Commission

Key Features of the Animal Welfare Bill
“¢Offences of Cruelty and Prohibited Conduct
Several acts which amount to cruelty are treated as offences in the Bill. These are acts which are unacceptable by any standard and which cause suffering to animals.
Certain other acts are prohibited as are certain sporting events that expose animals to cruelty and inhumane treatment.
Although killing an animal is not prohibited e.g. food animal, killing an animal in an unnecessary cruel manner is prohibited. There is a total prohibition on the killing of a pregnant animal except in circumstances of such an animal becoming a grave danger to the public.

Key Features of the Animal Welfare Bill
“¢Slaughter of Animals
The slaughter of Buffaloes is totally prohibited. The slaughter of cows is prohibited unless the animal is over twelve years old, or is incapable of breeding or unfit for agricultural work.
The slaughter of a quadruped in a private dwelling house in a residential area, in a place of business or a public place is prohibited.
The slaughter of a quadruped for sale or for distribution of flesh, requires a certificate of competence from the Authority.
“¢Transport of Animals
Detailed provisions have been introduced. The basic premise is that an animal should not be transported in such a manner as to subject it to unnecessary pain. Specific standards that must be observed in transporting animals are set out.

Key Features of the Animal Welfare Bill
“¢Appointment of Animal Welfare Inspectors.
They will be appointed by the Authority. They will have powers
to investigate offences of cruelty, seize animals, direct persons to undertake measures to alleviate suffering, recommend the forfeiture of animals and conduct prosecutions on behalf of the Authority.
“¢Animal Welfare Inspectors will have powers of investigation alongside Police and powers to issue Animal Welfare Directions.
“¢Penalties
Increase in monetary penalties and terms of imprisonment for offences against animals e.g. Causing cruelty to an animal. Fine not exceeding Rs. 50, 000 or imprisonment not exceeding two years or both fine and imprisonment. ( Clause 24 (1) )

Provisions in the Animal Welfare Bill that have relevanceto Animal Experimentation
“¢Interpretation ( Clause 70)
Definitions relating to animal, animal in captivity, cage, confine, custody, ill-treat, pain, and research
“¢Authority has powers to formulate Codes of Practice relating to Animal Welfare. Experiments using animals may come within such Codes ( Clause 14 (e))
“¢The Minister is empowered to make Regulations in respect of conditions relating to experiments on animals ( Clause 51 ( 2)( q)). The Minister in formulating such Regulations may with a view to reducing unnecessary pain on animals being used in experiments, review existing local practices, consult researchers and scientists, and refer international codes of practice

 Provisions in the Animal Welfare Bill that have relevanceto Animal Experimentation
“¢Clause 42 (1) in Part 10 of the Bill requires any person using live animals for teaching, research or experimentation to obtain a permit for such purpose from the Authority
“¢Clause 42 (2) stipulates that the Authority shall have regard to alternative methods and devices that do not involve experimentation on live animals such as computer stimulations and other audio “”…”visual methods, synthetically produced models, ethically sourced cadavars and clinical experiences, when issuing such permits
“¢Clause 42 (3) states that the Authority may refuse to issue a permit upon being satisfied that such research can be carried out or such teaching or experiment can be performed using such alternatives
“¢Authority has power to institute prosecutions under the Act, where appropriate ( Clause 15 (k)) This will include proceeding against researchers who misuse animals under cover of experiments.

Provisions in the Animal Welfare Bill that have relevanceto Animal Experimentation
“¢Duty of Care is owed by person in charge of animals ( Part VI) “”…”Clause 22
“¢Clause 23 specifies the duties.
It shall be the duty of every person in charge of an animal
a) to take all reasonable measures to ensure the well being of such animal; and
b) to prevent the infliction upon such animal of unnecessary fear or pain; and
c) to provide the animal with food, water, hygienic living conditions, adequate living space and shelter that is –
i) appropriate; and
ii) reasonably practicable for the person to provide.
“¢Medical and Vet researchers in charge of animals will be bound by this duty of care

Provisions in the Animal Welfare Bill that have relevanceto Animal Experimentation
“¢Duty of Care is owed by person in charge of animals ( Part VI) “”…”Clause 22
“¢Clause 23 specifies the duties.
It shall be the duty of every person in charge of an animal
a) to take all reasonable measures to ensure the well being of such animal; and
b) to prevent the infliction upon such animal of unnecessary fear or pain; and
c) to provide the animal with food, water, hygienic living conditions, adequate living space and shelter that is –
i) appropriate; and
ii) reasonably practicable for the person to provide.
“¢Medical and Vet researchers in charge of animals will be bound by this duty of care

Conclusion
“¢Animal Welfare Bill still awaits enactment in Parliament.
“¢Upon enactment it will set the standard for other countries particularly in Asia to follow suit
“¢Its enactment is long overdue given the obsolescence of existing legislation governing prevention of cruelty to animals
“¢It is also a test of our national commitment and compassion to other sentient beings
“¢In the oft quoted words of Mahatma Gandhi, but nevertheless still much relevant :
” The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated “

10 Responses to “Proposed Animal Welfare Legislation for Sri Lanka”

  1. Susantha Wijesinghe Says:

    TRANSPORT OF ANIMALS !!

    It was just the other day that a picture appeared in the News Papers, of Cattle being transported in a THREE WHEELER …TRISHAW, for slaughter. The law should have been in place to confiscate this vehicle. I have very emphatically stated this in my article captioned, ” FORMIDABLE DETERRENTS TO REDUCE AND AVERT CRIME ” Please scroll down below.

  2. Sirih Says:

    So many redundant laws that we got from colonial time are still on statute book, where all the legal brains in SL?
    Why are we not fixing these old laws which does not fit current environment ?
    Mannar incident raise so many questions? How come magistrate can ask open fire towards un arm protestors?

  3. Dilrook Says:

    It is indeed an antiquated statute and new animal welfare legislation must be passed and implemented.

    I’m appauled by the attitude of the President. It allows the barbaric practice to recommence once the relics leave the island!

    This is totally unacceptable. It also gives the impression this is one religion against another whereas the right thing by morality and all religions is to put a complete stop to all animal sacrifice.

    National Hindu Council has condemned the practice of animal sacrifice. It must be stopped without plaster solutions.

  4. Dham Says:

    Dilrook,
    I agree. Maharaja ran away from the problem. Why not he handover this to prince Gota ? he will do the rest.

    Talk to all heads of all religions. Agree that no animal killing for religious purposes. This should definitely include Muslim killings too. If they want buy meat from the shop. Import from Australia !

  5. Sunil Vijayapala Says:

    When they pass new bills in the parliament, whatever old rules and regulations the legislators(and judiciary) fail to revamp e.g. dual citizenship. One of the biggest jokes is the penalties which existed decades ago still remain while the rupee value has changed dramatically. Recently a foreign woman was fined Rs.10 for loitering or something. She would have laughed at this. Why can’t our Legislature or Judiciary (Law Society can advise) come up with hefty fines accordance with time? This is mind-boggling!!!

  6. lingamAndy Says:

    Dham
    prince Gota & Dr Mylvin can deal with VP & SF !
    but Only MR can deal with all the people from top to bootom ( Western educated to poor village inncent people who work day & night for our rice & curry )
    I am so confident before he finish his political life he will sort out last long ethenic problm for ever !!!
    Well done President , Please visit Sri Maha Kali Ammam kovil !!!

  7. MuhammadFS Says:

    Laws should be passed quickly to block these extremists.

  8. Fran Diaz Says:

    A number of Laws in Sri Lanka are from the Colonial period and must now be changed, even at this late stage, to suit the people of present times.

    Here is a news clip from the ColomboPage re Animal Sacrifice :

    “Sri Lanka Buddhist party to bring an act for prevention of animal sacrifice and torture
    Fri, Aug 31, 2012, 10:23 am SL Time, ColomboPage News Desk, Sri Lanka.

    Aug 31, Colombo: A parliamentarian of Sri Lanka’s Sinhala Buddhist political party Jathika Hela Urumaya (JHU) Athuraliye Rathana Thero says the party will bring an act in parliament for preventing animal sacrifice and torture in the country.

    The legislator has already brought a draft act in the parliament for animal welfare.

    The Thero further said that the animal sacrifice is banned in Tamil Nadu state of India and all Hindus do not approve this act that is carried out by a minority.

    The All Ceylon Hindu Congress (ACHC) in a release said the animal sacrifice or any cruelty to life is an Act of Sin and it is unacceptable to Hindu religion. The ACHC appealed to the Kovil authorities not to proceed with the ritual of sacrificing hundreds of goats and fowl.

    The JHU was protesting the animal sacrifice that was to take place in the Munneswaram Sri Badra Kali Amman Hindu Kovil in Chilaw on September 01.

    However, the Kovil authorities suspended the annual ritual on a request from the President, Mahinda Rajapaksa”.

  9. lingamAndy Says:

    MuhammadFS
    Laws should be passed quickly to block these extremists.- here come…. my muslim brother advise us about extremists !!!!

  10. Lorenzo Says:

    Well done JHU.

    Put them on the mat.

    Even Gandhi was against animal sacrifice.

    If you don’t pass it in parliament, we will NOT vote for you. If you want our vote, pass the ACT now.

    Nanthikadal 2.

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