Animals Alive president Kathryn Cleghorn said her organisation has called for a complete ban on explosive fireworks.
Instead, the group has suggested that silent fireworks be mandated in the Government’s proposed Fireworks draft bill.
In an interview with Guardian Media on Wednesday, Cleghorn said Animals Alive teamed up with Animals 360 to present their comments and recommendations for the draft bill to the Office of the Attorney General. The draft bill was first released in early January, five days after a fire that occurred during a firework display destroyed four homes in Port-of-Spain.
The proposed legislation would require a permit for setting off fireworks on all days except public holidays and December 31. Those caught breaking this law would be fined, although the draft did not state the amount lawbreakers would be required to pay.
Yesterday, Cleghorn shared some of her suggestions for changes to the draft.
“We are asking for silent fireworks or we are asking for just commercial displays, we do not want fireworks to be in the hands of private citizens, regardless that they would now have diminished hours of use we still that would lend for a free-for-all and it will not be sufficiently or properly monitored by the police,” Cleghorn said.
She believes fireworks were an ‘extreme waste’ of foreign exchange and the toll of these explosive devices on vulnerable people and animals was unacceptable.
“In a society that is trying to be civilised we need to regulate these disruptive and explosive devices because it has great effects to aged people, to infants and animals. It is overwhelming and terrible, intolerable and inhumane.”
Cleghorn said her organisation houses 500 dogs, who are subject to ‘torture’ in the months between Divali and New Year’s Day, when fireworks displays and bamboo bursting are prevalent.
“We are up all night on Divali and up all night on Old Year’s night because of the indiscriminate use of this thing and the animals are climbing up on their cages, they are climbing up to bust out, they are scaling over six feet fences, they are squeezing themselves through the tiniest holes, just so they could run away from this torture.”
She said there was no reason to expose any animal to this type of display.
Cleghorn said the organisation has yet to receive any response from the Office of the Attorney General to their recommendations. She said despite this, they choose to remain hopeful that the legislation will be updated to provide more protection for vulnerable people and animals.
Guardian Media has tried repeatedly to get a response from Attorney General Faris Al-Rawi on the feedback to the legislation.
Questions were sent to the AG on January 27, January 28, January 31 and again yesterday, however, up late yesterday there was no response.
Guardian Media contacted the Director Legal of the Criminal Justice Unit at the AG’s office Farzana Nazir-Mohammed yesterday.
Nazir-Mohammed said while the official deadline has passed for the submission of feedback on the bill, the office would still accept comments as the legal team has just started collating responses.
Nazir-Mohammed said she would not be able to give any further comments on the legislation or the process.