22 August, 2019

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NO To Animal Cruelty – YES To Animal Welfare Bill

By Vositha Wijenayake

Vositha Wijenayake

Vositha Wijenayake

Recently a video which was shared by a Sri Lankan on his Facebook managed to grab a lot of attention. Why? Many reasons. One probably being that some people liked watching cruelty to animals, the other due toa petition which was launched against the video, requesting that the man be punished for cruelty he inflicted on the animal. More specifically a cat, which was been taunted for a human’s entertainment.

A few questions remained unanswered. One includes the identity of the individual on the video, who speaks in Tamil to the cat, throwing it around, in the air, flipping him from side to side, and also carrying the animal by his neck, with his mouth as a cat would carry his kittens. This obviously creates a question as to the mental stability of the human who seems to be behaving not humane. Despite the petition’s call for punishing of the individual who has shared the video given the dilemma mentioned one cannot be assured whether it is the sharer who is in the video or not.

In addition to the lack of clarity of the individual, the biggest hurdle to take action against this sort of individuals remains the law. The law that is archaic, outdated with fines which are too low and with implementation that is almost never. If one has not heard of filed a case against anyone being fined for hitting his cat, not feeding it, or injuring it by throwing fire crackers at it, this would be due to the non-implementation of the law on animal cruelty in Sri Lanka, as well as the short-comings pertaining to it.

Cruelty to Animals

Cruelty to animals is defined by Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Ordinance No. 13 of 1907 as amended by N0.19 of 1912, 43 of 1917, 9 of 1919, 23 of 1921, 16 of 1927, 17 of 1930, 12 of 1945 and Act no. 22 of 1955.

According to section 2 of the Ordinance, the offence of cruelty is defined as including cruelly beat, ill-treat, over-drive, or cause or procure to be cruelly beaten, ill-treated, over-driven, over-ridden, abused or torture any animal; cause unnecessary pain or suffering to any animal by an act or omission, as well as convey or carry or cause them in vehicles, basket, box, or cage or otherwise, any animal or position animals so as to subject them to unnecessary pain or suffering.The penalty for this offence is provided as a fine that may extend to hundred rupees, or imprisonment (maximum 3 months) or both.

Further section 3 provides, “If any animal is found to be suffering and in pain by starvation the owner is guilty of an offence.” The punishment for THIS offence is at fine of hundred rupees, or imprisonment that may extend to 3 months or both.

One of the issues of the Legislation are the penalties which are trivial and not detrimental in its effect which fail to prevent cruelty to animals. The law that was passed over 100 years ago unfortunately fails from being taken seriously due to this.

Defining “Animal”

Another shortcoming of the current law on animal cruelty is the interpretation on what constitutes an “animal” under this Ordinance. In section 14, the interpretation provided states, “Animal means any domestic or captured animal and includes any bird, fish, or reptile in captivity.” This in turn limits the compassion that needs to be shown to animals to only those animals considered in human custody, which in turn provides space to be cruelt to those that are not.

Sri Lankan case law provides that an animal that is a “wild” animal would not come within the protection of this Ordinance. In the case of Inspector, Society for the Prevention of Crueltyto Animals, Nawalapitiya v. Punchirala et al (1922) 24 NLR 202 a number of people were charged for chasing a wild elk, which had not been previously captured, and killing it in a cruel manner. It was held that the accused were not punishable under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Ordinance, No.13 of 1907 as the wild elk was not ‘an animal’ within the meaning of the term in the Ordinance and in turn were acquitted.

Need for Reform

To address the shortcomings of the law on animal cruelty, proposal for reform was presented in the form of a Bill to the parliament by Hon. (Ven.) Athuraliye Rathana Thero, on October 19, 2010. The new legislation which is proposed has as its objective to replace the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Ordinance of 1907, and to recognise duty of care for persons in charge of animals to treat the animals humanely, to prevent cruelty to animals and to secure the protection and welfare of animals, to establish a National Animal Welfare Authority and Regulations and Codes of Practice and to raise awareness on animal welfare.

The Bill provides that a person in charge of an animal owes a duty of care to it, and that it shall be the duty of every person in charge of an animal to take all reasonable measures to ensure the well-being of such animal; and to prevent the infliction upon such animal of unnecessary fear or pain; and to provide such animal with food, water, hygienic living conditions, adequate living space and shelter that is appropriate; and reasonably practicable for the person to provide.

Proposed Law on Cruelty to Animals

The proposed law addresses cruelty to animals, and elaborates it to include beating, kicking, overriding, overdriving, overloading, overworking, torturing, terrifying, or otherwise treats an animal so as to subject it to unnecessary pain. It also proposes for it to an offence where a person in charge of an animal permits the animal to be so treated. This also includes usig an animal in any work or labour or for any other purpose for which by reason of any disease, infirmity, wound, or other cause, such animal is unfit to be so used or training an animal in a way that is detrimental to its health and welfare, including forcing an animal to exceed its natural capacities or strength.

The Bill also proposes cruelty to animals to include wilfully and unreasonably administering any poison, injurious drug or substance to an animal or wilfully and unreasonably causing or attempting to cause any poison, injurious drug or substance to be taken by an animal. It also covers transport of animals by bringing within the interpretation conveying or carrying an animal in such a manner or position as to subject it to pain. Additionally keeping or confining an animal in any cage or any place that does not measure sufficiently in height, length and breadth to permit the animal a reasonable opportunity for movement will also be construed as cruelty to animals under the proposed law.

The suggested penalty upon conviction for the above mentioned offence is set to be a fine not exceeding fifty thousand rupees or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding two years or to both such fine and imprisonment.

A Compassionate Government?

President Sirisena’s election manifesto is reflecting the need for these reforms, or rather the overarching principle behind the call for reform : the need to protect animals from cruelty. This need is mentioned in his manifesto, under the section on religious freedom in which the President promises to introduce legislation which will prevent violence to animals. However the 100 Day Program has lapsed in time (though one chooses to remain hopeful that what is in the manifesto will be addressed even post 100 Days) and the Bill presented to the parliament remains not passed.

With changes to governance being set up, and the enthusiasm which comes with it, would this not be the appropriate time that we give serious thought to the proposed legal reforms on cruelty to animals, and establish compassion which extends beyond just the humans in the land?

*Vositha Wijenayake is an Attorney-at-Law specialising in international environmental law, and human rights law. Her recent work includes the UN processes on climate and sustainable development, gender and cruelty against animals.

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Latest comments

  • 19
    10

    Before cruelty to animals we need to stop cruelty to our fellow human beings.

    No point saving cats and cows and dogs, first let’s save out fellow humans.

    No point wearing our temple/church/kovil steps out, lets save our fellow humans.

    Get our priorities right, please.

    • 9
      10

      Couldn’t agree more Robert.. Animals have no consciousness, when you hart them (? my respect) , it is only physical, they, animals, do NOT get long lasting effects of anger or hatred. on the other hand, humans who suffered cruelty, would have continued suffering from hatred and anger generate in their consciousness. 200 families in Aluthgama whose houses were burn must be still burning from hatred and anger towards those SBs who have done it and supported it. If the masses have no empathetic feelings towards their fellow humans, how could they develop such feelings towards animals….

    • 1
      2

      Vositha Wijenayak

      RE: NO To Animal Cruelty – YES To Animal Welfare Bill

      “Cruelty to Animals”

      “Cruelty to animals is defined by Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Ordinance No. 13 of 1907 as amended by N0.19 of 1912, 43 of 1917, 9 of 1919, 23 of 1921, 16 of 1927, 17 of 1930, 12 of 1945 and Act no. 22 of 1955”

      Cruelty to Citizens? What does the constitution say?

      NO To Homo Sapien Cruelty – YES To Homo Sapien Welfare Bill

      NO To Paradeshi Cruelty – YES To Paradeshi Welfare Bill.

      [Edited out]

    • 2
      0

      Just like preventing cruelty to first class citizens before we talk about slaves, eh?

    • 6
      1

      Robert.R .. Ohh[Edited out] Humans can Take Cre pf themselves. It We who act like brainless animals. If we can be cruel to Animals then it will transgres to Humans. DUM [Edited out]Like u will argue and say. Before we stop Womes Issues lest first sort the Male issues.. No wonder our nation is backward with people like u who crawl out of ous infected wombs. All Forms of cruelty to Animals Must stop. Then u will see Humans in Lanka be much more better towards each other. Not [Edited out] Half Harted Rights.

    • 6
      2

      @ Robert.

      Your view is obviously that its OK to hurt animals.

      You sound like someone who believes that animals were created by a man in the sky for us to eat and use as we like.

    • 3
      1

      Robert.. Its people Like You who are the ANIMALS.. The lowest form of Humans. At least the Animals are a Greatful lot and will always be loyal to their master who loves them. Something Heartless fools like you will never understand. GAndhi sad a nation can be judged upon how it treats it’s Animals. ENOUGH SAID.. Can Take the LAnkan to the west but cant take that BAckward Mentality OUT. Must be the Breeding (a A FEW LANKANS hopefully)

      • 2
        0

        @Shan and @Sam.

        My comment was, in Sri Lanka we are so superficial in our “care” and “concern” for “animals”

        There are many who will release cows on full moon days yet happily ignore the plight of their fellow human beings. There are christians/hindus/buddhists/muslims who will talk of kindness and love yet will show no such thing if the one in “pain” is the OTHER.
        The OTHER being , another religion, caste. race..etc.

        My comment was if one truly starts caring for humans, then care for other creatures flows naturally from it. If we cannot care for those that look/act/feel like US then how can we care for this creatures that are DIFFERENT?

        • 0
          1

          @Robert.. plight of their fellow human beings?????

          And whats the PLIGHT????

          If MAny Lankans can Sit on their arses and be lazy then they have created that plight, HAve you seen how many Holidays in Sri Lanka and the loss to the nation, If The Lanks are willing to abroad and work then this their choice.

          Look at how we Kill the elephants the scared and national treasure of all LAnkans. Animals dont have a choice we do.

          Like i said can take the Lankan out of the Country but not their BAckward Mentality. Humans can Hlep Themselves.

          You are Just a Person who will always find excuses even for criminals and rapist. Thats poeple like u who eventaully are cruel to animals and Fellow Humans

          • 2
            0

            The fact that you think humans are lazy and can help themselves while being more worried about elephants show how callous you are.

    • 0
      0

      Vositha Wijenayake

      RE: NO To Animal Cruelty – YES To Animal Welfare Bill

      Yes, We should not cause Cruelty to animals.

      Jaffna Science Student who Was Killed, JVP goes to House to Inquire.

      A Rapist has Brutally molested and killed an Innocent Science student, which the whole country Deplores., and this should be prevented and the Culprits
      must be Punished for the crime.

      If the Law and Order will not take action, then the people must take action against the suspect collectively. Let the culprits know, the will pay.

      http://www.lankatruth.com/home/sinhala/index.php…

    • 0
      0

      Robert R:
      Opinions like yours is at the core of animal cruelty. Animals share the same senses as we do, they feel love, they feel loss, they feel pain. An animals life is no less valuable than a humans life and far more valuable than a human that takes part in animal cruelty..

  • 5
    0

    The new Animal Welfare Bill has not been enacted although it has been ready for more than 5 years. Such legislation which gives the right to life for animals, is on the statute books of every civilized country. In Sri Lanka, considering that it will give a legal basis for the first buddhist precept – Panathipatha weramani – it is difficult to understand why it has been delayed so much. It seems that all the so-called buddhists in this country including the former President – now seen with a mal wattiya in his hand at some temple or another – and professed buddhist parties such as the JHU are only paying lip service to the religion.
    I would appeal to the HE the President and the Prime Minister to have this bill approved before the present parliament is dissolved.

  • 7
    0

    Unfortunately, animal cruelty means different things for different people – Eating an egg, fishing, making a buffaloe work the paddy field, not feeding a stray dog, boiling a crab live, hunting, letting a cow roam the street, etc.

    We like to think that we are animal friendly than others, are we?

    • 3
      1

      We like to think that we are animal friendly than others, are we?

      Like to think, we are, our conduct proves it. So friendly that we keep baby elephants at home forgetting even taking a permit.. and no for cruelty to animals too, we don’t let a shark starve….poor humans!, and proud to be called lions or tigers.

  • 3
    3

    If you travel From BIA to Jaffna you can see the number of dogs living in the streets. Very pathetic and cruel.a potential risk for health. it is normal to see and have the animals suffer in roads. The children grow seeing this kind of things and become immune to the poor condition and sufferins of animals and extrapolate to humans. This is sl society. a naked truth.
    The military bred and possessed lot of dogs in each and every camps and sentry points. and now they abandoned. you can see them in the roads. their condition is pathetic like the people of the north and east. That is the mentality of the military. Have them and then rape and throw them alive or dead in the street or bush. even a burial would miss.

  • 5
    0

    Cruelty to animals is endemic in Sri Lanka. Cruelty to human animals by human animals in Sri Lanka is also endemic. Cruelty spans all casts, creeds and colours of human animals. You do not need to see it in a video, just step outside your house and take a walk.

    Racism is also cruelty to human animals by human animals.

    Corruption and greed is also cruelty to fellow humans.

    Inciting violence against fellow humans while dressed in Buddhist garb and professing to be Buddhists is also cruelty to human animals.

    Do I make sense??

  • 7
    2

    Vositha,

    From your article and the comments we can see that Sri Lankans in general are cruel to the living beings. More people like you should actively work towards bringing this awareness. Civility towards other beings is something that should be taught in schools.

    If humans cannot be kind to animals how can they be kind to other beings? Keep up your good writing.

  • 3
    0

    while i was reading the article i came across this part –> Defining “Animal” which always bugged me So according to laws humans aren’t animals ?? then what are they ?

    “The penalty for this offense is provided as a fine that may extend to hundred rupees, or imprisonment (maximum 3 months) or both. ” oh how have they degrade the value of life to this extent :/

  • 0
    0

    Cruelty to animals takes many forms. But protecting an animal is not in itself a solution.

    We have many issues where we have people who let their dogs run around in the road. Where they run around pull and eat the garbage, defecate all over the place, multiply like rabbits and are a threat to people.

    It’s merely not enough to protect the animals, but controls must exist where people take responsibility for the animals that they have adopted or bred.

    We have animal rights activists who are vociferous when it comes to animal rights but don’t want to find solutions for the problems caused by stray or so called strays except to run programs to try an neuter them, which really hasn’t helped much.

    We ourselves are animal lovers and have adopted stray cats who have wandered into our property, but it is meaningless to just create legislature to protect animals, with having proper legislature to ensure that they don’t cause problems for people as well.

    Petros

  • 3
    1

    Australia legally recognises animals as sentient beings. Ceylon should have done this first.

    http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/australasia/animals-are-now-legally-recognised-as-sentient-beings-in-new-zealand-10256006.html

  • 2
    1

    @ Robert!

    What kind of human being are you? A mentality like yours is sick and you seem to be an insensitive human.
    lets get your facts cleared…

    It is convenient for many to think that animals don’t have feelings, as it means they can perform all kinds of barbaric acts towards them without guilt.
    Of course, anyone who’s ever had a pet or spent more than about five minutes around animals knows that many of them absolutely have emotions.

    It is both ridiculous and arrogant to suggest that of all the thousands upon thousands of animals on this planet, we are the only ones in which emotions have evolved.

    They are an important survival trait for example, when a zebra runs from a lion, it is displaying fear. Without this emotion, the zebra would just stand there and get eaten – not a good strategy for the survival of the species. If a mother animal felt nothing for her young, she would not try to defend them when they were threatened – again, not good for the future of the species. For social animals, bonding with other members of their group is clearly important. Many social animals are known to mourn when a member of the group dies. Grey wolves mate for life, and there are known cases in which when one partner dies, the other stops eating until it too dies. This behavior has also been seen in their descendants, domestic dogs – there are many records of dogs ‘pining away’ after the death of their owners.

    Animals also experience jealousy, hatred and other emotions shared by us. It’s common for pets to be jealous of each other over your attention.
    Some animals can even tell us how they’re feeling. There have been various apes that have been taught sign language. One of these, a gorilla, had a pet cat, which was run over and killed. When the gorilla was told, she repeatedly signed ‘sad’.

    In my opinion, all vertebrate animals have emotions, and possibly even some invertebrates, such as the octopus. However, it is unlikely that more primitive animals such as insects have emotions, since emotions require a complex brain, something these species do not possess. That does not, of course, mean that they can’t feel physical pain or that we should respect them any less.

  • 2
    0

    To ppl who think that animals don’t have feelings and don’t get hurt nor hold grudges, kindly read up on the above mentioned Australian legislation. They are way of ahead og in the manner in which they treat their animals. If that’s still too much, read up on the meaing of the word ‘sentinent’.

  • 1
    1

    Dear Vositha,

    You are indeed a human for espousing the cause of Animals.Take for instance our Pet dogs;For a tiny morsel of food look at that Loyalty;That Friendship.

    Anyway,I am only concerned that if Legislation is passed in Parliament against cruelty to Animals MaRa and his family are quite capable of appealing to the Supreme Court against the FCID on the basis that it violates the cruelty to Animals Act!

  • 0
    2

    It is ok to be cruel to the minorities in the country and eat flesh of animals killed by [Edited out].

    What is bad is being cruel to animals. And budhdha ate human flesh when cooked and given and so why cannot we eat.

    That is not cruelty.

    • 0
      0

      “budhdha ate human flesh”

      Really???

  • 0
    0

    Not only are humans oblivious to animal suffering with hunger and disease, they are also slaughtered with cruelty and utmost pain for our diet.

    It is high time that the government introduces methods of slaughter as administered by nations such as in U.K,Western Europe, Australia ,the USA/Canada are adopted and such practices enforced in Lanka.

  • 1
    3

    This is the F….g problem. Animals are more important than humans. People are staving and no one to feed them. Almost the entire population of the North Western province is CKD and no one really cares. These spoilt brat women care more about their pets than the man on the street. Wonder what they use their pets for??

    • 0
      0

      Upul,

      What have you done towards the cruelty of the people in the north and east? Voshita in her own way is fighting for the rights of living beings. She is making the people become aware of the issue of lack of kindness and hypocrisy of the Sri Lankan communities. Do you really have to bring your racial slur here? Think about it.

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