With the proposed Bill on animal welfare, Sri Lanka and its animal rights activists have made remarkable progress since the Prevention of Cruelty to Animal Ordinance of 1907. This World Animal Day, the Animal Welfare Coalition of Sri Lanka would like to commemorate by both celebrating animal life in all its forms, true to its origins back in 1930 and also use it as an opportunity to raise awareness on the Animal Welfare Bill.
The Bill was first proposed to the Parliament by Venerable Athuraliye Rathana Thero with the objective of replacing the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Ordinance of 1907. It was a timely and required intervention as not only was the Ordinance outdated but also one that would come in place to put an end to uncalled for animal cruelty in the country.
“It is time we focus on the protection and the welfare of animals in the country. This is a cause that needs to be prioritised, and politicians need to act in order to ensure that cruelty to animals is prevented. This is crucial as compassion to all beings is part of our culture,” said Sathva Mithra President, Sagarika Rajakarunanayake.
A few of the key highlights, additions and upgrades to the Bill includes a broader definition of “animals”, the need for duty of care, the establishing of a National Animal Welfare Authority and a revision of fine on acts of cruelty against animals.
“The Bill is much needed to address cruelty which is inflicted on animals in the country. We hear stories of many acts of cruelty which occur, and there is need for a robust and effective legal framework which could address these issues,” said Convener of the Animal Welfare Coalition and Attorney-at-Law Vositha Wijenayake.
The Coalition has also begun an awareness raising campaign titled “Call for Animal Welfare” on Facebook where various animal rights activists, local celebrities and social media influencers speak on the importance of having the Bill passed and generating more conversation around the topic as well.
“Call for Animal Welfare was started to create awareness among the public on the need for the Animal Welfare Bill. We have got good reactions from the public, and we hope that the it will help us spread the word on the need on this Bill, on the World Animal Day, we would like to call the Sri Lankan public to focus on the need to protect animals from cruelty, and call for animal welfare in the country,” she added.
The Animal Welfare Coalition was set up with the objective of advocating, and lobbying for a new animal welfare bill that will better cater to address curbing cruelty to animals in Sri Lanka. The Coalition also aims to work on effective implementation of the Bill once enacted, and addressing issues that violate the protection of animal welfare.