Attorney General Faris Al-Rawi will be served with a pre-action protocol letter no later than next Thursday, calling on the Government to enact a policy to improve the welfare of animals or face court action.
Senior Counsel Ramesh Lawrence Maharaj told Guardian Media yesterday that there is no precedence in the Caribbean where citizens have gone to court seeking to compel a government to enact legislation.
As a result, Maharaj foresees that if the Government does not comply with the pre-action protocol letter, the matter would reach all the way to the Privy Council.
The action is being brought by animal welfare activist Jowelle De Souza, against the Government’s failure to put proper legislation in place to better protect animals. Although there are laws for the protection of animals, De Souza believes they’re archaic and does little. De Souza also wants more humane treatment for animals.
The letter will be sent to the AG’s office by email and by post.
“It’s a pre-action protocol letter addressed to the Government, requesting the government to formulate a policy and then implement the policy by legislation if necessary so that you will prevent cruelty to dogs and other animals.
“If the government does not comply, you do not have a precedent in the Caribbean for the court. In order to go to court to compel the Government to make a reasonable policy and to enact legislation, it is in that respect that it will be the first, in that the law is a developing field. We think, having regards to the established principles of public and constitutional law that an action can be crafted in that way in order to test the law. In any event, the local courts will not be the only court that will determine this because it will go right up to the Privy Council,” Maharaj said.
A petition has been started and yesterday, Oropouche East MP Dr Roodal Moonilal added his name to the list of signatories.
Moonilal said his family are animal lovers and was asked at one time if he was Dr Dolittle because of the number of pets he had. Moonilal said that with the amount of noise disturbances that affect animals, steps need to be taken to protect them.
He said in the United Kingdom, there are progressive laws dealing with animal rights and protection, and it was something that any government should seek to emulate. He said he will be lobbying his colleagues in the United National Congress to sign the petition and support De Souza’s quest for better treatment for animals.
“In this world today, this matter should not have to do with party and ideology. It has to do with protection,” Moonilal said.