The long discussed Animal Welfare Bill of Sri Lanka is at present with the legal draftsman’s office as informed by authorities of the Ministry of Social Services, Welfare and Livestock Development.

Following the public consultation which was held last year, where there have been suggestions for edits to the first version of the Bill made, the Ministry had proposed conceptual changes suggested by the public,  to the Cabinet. In response to this, the Cabinet approval to these changes was received January 13, 2016 and the Bill was passed to the legal draftsman for the changes to be incorporated to the Bill, and for it to be drafted with the changes included.

Steps for law reform

The country has seen its last amendment to the law addressing cruelty to animals in 1955, and the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Ordinance of 1907 under which welfare of animals is taken into consideration is over a century old, and needing urgent reforms with outdated fines, and the implementation being on a rare occasion.

Animal Welfare Coalition of Sri Lanka, and civil society organisations working on animal welfare have highlighted the need for reform of law in this regard. A Bill for this purpose was presented to the parliament in October, 2010 by AthuruliyeRathanaThero. The new legislation 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.

More to be done

“The Cabinet approval for the Bill to be sent to the legal draftsman is a positive step towards a change in the archaic laws on cruelty to animals in Sri Lanka. This has been long due, and the Animal Welfare Coalition welcomes this as move towards creating a better environment in Sri Lanka for animals where they are not subjected to cruelty,” said Convenor of Animal Welfare Coalition, Vositha Wijenayake.

She further added that the Coalition will be following up on the progress of the Bill, and work with other actors to promote, facilitate and ensure that the new Animal Welfare Bill becomes a reality in Sri Lanka.