Kathmandu, March 31, 2016- Animal Nepal with the kind support of The Donkey Sanctuary UK conducted an successful consultative meeting on Animal Welfare Law Review. With the presence of chair person Dr. Dhan Raj Ratala, Chief guest Dr. Ram Krishna Timilsena and other high level guests from government Bodies, the Donor Agencies, related NGOs and INGOs, the meeting started at 11 am in the morning at The Bakery Café, Harihar Bhawan.
The programme opened with a welcome speech from AN’s President, Pramada Shah where she personally greeted the Chair person, the Chief Guest and the guests. She threw some lights on works done by AN and the importance of the law review. She requested all the parties involved to create a Humane Society for Animals and consider humane ways for livestock development since the Ministry for Animal and Birds Development is promoting livestock rearing and farming. She also mentioned that working animals (particularly equines) have limited protection under the law. She was hopeful for positive legislation as well as co-operation between all the concerned stakeholders.
Bikalpa Raj Bhandari and Shubecha Tewari as legal advisers of AN, presented the report. Mr. Bhandari explained the significance of the paper, the structure of the consultation and division of the topics under the report whereas Ms. Tewari explained limitations of the study (domestic land animals, animal welfare) and defined what animal welfare actually means. She also examined the national and international legal mechanisms that are applicable to Nepal, in respect to animal welfare. She analyzed the contradiction within national legislation, the gap between the law and its intention, and gap between national legislation and international obligation. She also pointed out that the law seemed to protect a certain group of domestic animals (cattle and meat production animal) more than others. She discussed how companion and entertainment animals are less protected by legislation and required more (legal) focus in the future from both bio-centric and human-centric perspective. She recommended that a committee be established under Section 27 of Animal Health and Livestock Services Act.
Furthermore, Mr. Bishewoshar Koirala, from District Development Committee , commended AN for bringing up animal rights issue in an era where even human rights are not being protected to the full extent. Mr. Umesh Dahal from Pashu Swastya Nirdeshanalaya (Animal Health Directorate) stated that Department is working on the Animal Welfare Act. He stated that the Draft Act was unavailable because it was in a crude form. He appreciated the presentations and especially the analysis of both national and international legal mechanism. He further stated that the Welfare committee as mentioned under the Section 27 of Animal Health and Livestock Services Act is in the process of formation and is to be included in the Animal Welfare Act..
Dr. Ram Krishna Timilsena, ex-registrar of Supreme Court from National Law College, appreciated the study with few recommendations where he mentioned that animal welfare, though systematically began from Western Hemisphere, was initiated from Oriental Philosophy and hence focused on incorporating the concept from Muluki Ain from Jung Bahadur’s era. He added that the Civil Code and Penal Code Drafts which are in the Parliament must be taken into consideration. (Civil code has provision for animals and Penal Code has provisions for punishment in case of cruelty). He also focused on the Jurisdictions of the Federal and Local governments (as per the new Constitution) be examined. Regarding animal welfare in Nepal, he felt that there should be further elaborate law/rules/policy related to animal welfare; laws should have provisions regarding policies to assure animal welfare. There must be strategic planning and dedicated annual budget to provide for animal welfare and there should be provisions of sanctions as well as incentives. He felt it was important to decide whether the approach regarding animal welfare is to be Human Centric or Bio Centric and this notion of Animal Welfare must be connected with WTO/ UN/ Human Health/ Ecosystem.
Dr. Sri Ram Adhikari from Pashu Swea talim tatha parasar Nirdeshanalaya/NSPCA Nepal stated that notification to the WTO must be given by the Government of Nepal regarding its new laws considering animal health and animal welfare; only than is it possible to implement the law.
Dr. Narayan Sharma, from Department of Livestock, stated that NGO’s and Governmental agencies must collaborate for a concrete law on animal welfare. He reiterated, thus established the importance of the recommendation to create a registration system. He suggested micro-chipping animals to deter abandonment of animals. He claimed that the new Animal Welfare Act must have a provision establishing a duty of care on owners.
He also recommended Government Agencies to follow OIE (World Organisation for Animal Health) standard as they are based on scientific evidence. He further added that animal welfare during transportation should be considered a priority and legislation should be drafted or amended to end animal cruelty. He recommended the NGOs sector to be more involved in Awareness raising campaigns and advocacy.
Dr. Narayan Ghimire, from Nepal Veterinary Council, stated that the government is on a 3 months target to review the existing laws. The government plans to have adopted new laws for animal welfare within one year. He stated that the laws must be Community based laws in order to be enforceable by relevant authorities. There must be awareness campaigns and active advocacy. Any draft must include input from experts from the veterinary field. One of the hurdles that exist is contradictory laws/regulations which must be tackled and the concerned experts must be consulted. Welfare certificate system should be established. Animal Welfare must be looked as a body that embodies Animal Health, Human Health and Animal Welfare. He also stated that it is necessary to define the words within the definition of animal welfare (for example words such as animals, healthy, etc). Furthermore, he requested the government officials’ present to be serious and keep animals in mind while formulating legislation regarding them.
Dr. Ram Krishna Timilsena further added that concerned agency for instance the Law Ministry must be responsible and the leading organization. Other NGOs and government agencies (veterinary related) must be included under the team which is responsible drafting process of the law.
Ms. Pramada Shah recommended that similar committee be formed under the Ministry Animal and Birds Development, to expedite the law making process at the earliest.
Dr. Dhan Raj Ratala, Chairperson of Nepal Veterinary Council added that there was a concept of Animal welfare Act in 2055. The government institutions have been unable to implement Section 27 of Animal Health and Livestock Services Act. The main obstacles that exist are political agendas between the parties and personal issues between members.
We should focus on animal’s well being. He spoke about how abandoned animals could be used in a productive manner and should be the focus of the Government; he also exclaimed the livestock industry to be a priority. He stated that the Central Government makes the guiding principles and local administration implements it. Laws must take into consideration societal and cultural values. He claimed that OIE guidelines are not absolutely applicable. All the arguments for change in current laws (such as public health concerns) must be backed by scientific evidence.
Mr. Khushi Lal Shah, from Pashu Panchim Bajar Prabardhan, suggested that preference must be given to local language. There should be more advocacy and awareness campaigns at local level. Economic profit based animal farming must be considered when conducting such a review. Similarly, Dr. Sulekha Sharma, from Pashu Kalyan Sanchar Nepal, stated that economic based approach need to be considered when conducting reviews such as this one.
Ms. Shristi Singh Shrestha, Vice President of Animal Nepal concluded the meeting by thanking everyone for taking the time out of their day to attend the event. She stated that this is a very important gathering and a sensitive subject that we are dealing with.At last she added, “We are struggling for our identity as land of Buddha and peaceful nation, and we do not incorporate animals within that circle of peace and welfare, we will be termed as hypocrites. It is a difficult journey but together we can make it through and emerge stronger and kinder.”