Attorney General Faris Al-Rawi

An animal welfare activist has written to Attorney General Faris Al-Rawi over the proclamation of legislation dealing with cruelty to animals.

In a letter sent to Al-Rawi late last week, attorneys representing Marisa Ramnath sought to enquire over the timeline for the proclamation of the Animals (Diseases and Importation) (Amendment) Act 2020, which was passed by both houses of Parliament and assented to in July last year.

“Indeed, our client is of the view that this provision of law and the creation of this offence is a progressive step towards improving the treatment of animals within T&T,” attorney Rhea Khan said, as she referred to section 18 of the legislation which makes it an offence to beat, ill-treat, starve, torture or neglect an animal.

“However, our client notes that the aforementioned Act has not been proclaimed and is therefore currently ineffectual,” Khan added.

In the letter, Khan noted that her client is a public-spirited individual who has contributed to the establishment and running of animal shelters for several years.

“She has become concerned about the increase in abuse and cruelty towards animals in our society. From these incidents, which are not isolated, it seems as though animal abuse and cruelty has become unacceptably prevalent within our society,” she said.

Khan said her client hoped to get a response within a month.

While the Act is yet to be proclaimed, the Miscellaneous Amendments Act 2020, which has similar aims, was proclaimed in May last year.

Under that Act, the Summary Offences Act was amended to increase the maximum penalties for animal cruelty from a $400 fine or two months’ imprisonment to $100,000 and a year imprisonment. However, those animal cruelty offences only cover domesticated animals such as dogs, cats, cows, sheep and goats.

The legislation Ramnath is enquiring about will cover wild animals and those excluded from the defined list of domesticated animals.

Ramnath is also being represented by Dinesh Rambally, Kiel Taklalsingh and Stefan Ramkissoon.